ORANGE -- After a four-year hiatus, the Orange Coast College men's cross country team returned to the top of the pack, finishing first overall at the 2019 Orange Empire Conference Cross Country Championships on Friday at Irvine Park.
With five of the top 13 times, the Pirates earned the best overall team score with 37 points, ahead of Riverside (44), Fullerton (89), Santiago Canyon (125), Santa Ana (127), Saddleback (132) and Golden West (178).
Conquering the 4-mile race first was Santa Ana College's Giovanni Barajas-Ramirez with a winning time of 21 minutes, 48.5 seconds, but for the Pirates to capture the team crown, that came on the freshmen feet of Brian Soriano-Guzman and Tyler Savely. Soriano-Guzman and Savely battled for runner-up the entire race before Soriano-Guzman earned the silver medal with a time of 22:06.8, while Savely notched the bronze with a time of 22:09.5, a full 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack.
In the two-team battle for the OEC title, Riverside's Jordan Wilson was the top Tiger, finishing sixth with a time of 22:35. OCC's Yuki Watanabe managed to place seventh, ahead of a quartet of Tigers, with a time of 22:35.9, giving another key spot in the standings to the Pirates.
OCC's final point-getters, Pedro Antunez (23:07.7) and Andrew Lopez (23:10), placed 12th and 13th, respectively to five the Pirates the results they needed to win their first team conference title since 2014 and their 11th team title over the past 18 years.
With all five of OCC's top finishers as freshmen, the future is looking bright for the Pirates, not only for the remainder of this season, but for 2020 as well.
Other top times for Coast included Justin Dominguez (23:22.1), Adam Angel (23:52.6), Joseph Pena (23:59.6), Jacob Skytte, (25:35.2), Anthony Osorio (26:03.3), Gavin McNeill (26:13.1), Mateo Nicanor (26:36), Edward Ramirez (31:40.3) and Ernesto Zepeda (37:22.8).
The Pirates will now head down to San Diego for the Southern California Regional Championships, which will take place on Friday at 10 a.m. at Mission Bay.