ORANGE, Calif. – In Friday's Orange Empire Conference Championships held at Irvine Regional Park, Giovanni Barajas put on a show to bring home a championship as he blew away the field to win with a time of 21:48.45.
Early in the race, four Riverside runners jumped out to lead the pack while Barajas sat back in fifth place. But by the three mile mark, the sophomore from Garden Grove High not only closed the gap, but distanced himself by about 50 yards.
Barajas kept that lead down the stretch to beat the next man in by approximately 18 seconds.
After the race, Barajas embraced head coach Miriam Mitzel, who believed he would win from the start.
"Each year, I give every one of my runners a motivation quote before the OEC Championships", Coach Mitzel said. "Before giving Gio his quote I told him to make a statement, let everyone know who he is, have pride and represent SAC. Get out fast and don't look back. Give everything you have and you'll have no regrets."
Barajas did just that with an impressive performance that put him at the top of the conference.
Francisco Avila (25:09.74/32nd), Andres Ramirez (25:58.90/44th), Eder Diaz (26:45.21/54th) and Corben Pagnotta (30:06.54/63rd) joined him in the race to help Santa Ana qualify for the 2019 CCCAA SoCal Championships.
Maria Marroquin led the way for the Lady Dons, placing 14th overall with a time of 22:09.33. Her team also qualified for CCCAA SoCals as teammates Daisy Tellez (22:09.33/33rd), Paula Alvarez (25:16.21/33rd), Irlanda Hernandez (25:35.57/36th) and Giselle Arenas (26:00.34/38th) had solid races.
The Dons will travel to San Diego for the SoCal Championships on November 8th at 10:00 a.m.
Gio's quote by Steve Prefontaine – Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.