Santa Rosa Junior College women win Big 8 cross country title

In the men's field, Bear Cubs runner Johnny Vargas claimed the top individual spot.|

The Santa Rosa Junior College women’s cross country team captured first place and Bear Cubs runner Johnny Vargas claimed the top individual spot in the men’s race at the Big 8 conference championships on Friday.

The SRJC women delivered the first cross country conference title for the Bear Cubs since 1979, but had to go to NCAA tiebreaker rules to do so.

Led by runner Ana Palafox, the Bear Cub women finished with 52 points on the 5K Hidden Valley Park course in Martinez, tied with Sierra College.

But with Palafox finishing in fourth place and fellow SRJC runners Evelin and Jackie Ramirez coming in ninth and 12th, the Bear Cubs earned the title because their top five finishers outdid Sierra College’s best performers.

Palafox’s fourth-place finish in 20:26 outdid Sierra College’s top runner, who came in seventh. Likewise, the ninth- and 12th-place finishes by SRJC runners were better than Sierra’s 10th- and 13th-place runners.

That made the difference in deciding the title, as ?SRJC’s next runners finished behind the fourth- and fifth-place Sierra competitors.

Vargas, a freshman, made easy work of the men’s field, finishing the 4.19-mile course in 22:49, more than 17 seconds ahead of second-place runner Logan Dodge of American River College.

Vargas won conference MVP honors with his performance, while the SRJC men’s team as a whole finished in fourth place.

The Bear Cub men will need to place among the top seven this weekend at the Northern California championships in Redding in order to qualify for the state meet on Nov. 17 in Fresno.

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