Cross country teams head for state championship

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College cross-country teams will be well represented when they run for the state championship on Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Brittany Grimes, Western State Conference champion and second in Southern California, will lead the women’s team, and Giovanni Perezchica, also a conference champion and sixth in SoCal, will lead the men.

Grimes, a freshman at BC, was a Central Section champion while at Centennial High and has the leadership skills it takes to be a champion.

“Brittany pushes everybody harder,” said Pam Kelly, BC cross-country coach. “She works hard, and the other girls know they have to work hard to place in the meets. As a team we need everyone, it’s a team sport.”

Grimes just missed winning the SoCal championship as she finished second with a time of 16 minutes, 8 seconds. The winner was Ludi Valdez of Orange Coast College with a time of 16:04. Grimes’ finish helped lead the women’s team to an overall eighth-place finish, qualifying them for the state meet. The finish was also the best for a BC female runner in SoCal or state.

The 18-year old runner said that adrenaline is the thing that pumps her up for a meet.

“I think that when the races come, my adrenaline level is pumped,” Grimes said. “I like the adrenaline rush, and it helps me run.”

Along with a GPA of 3.0, adrenaline may be very effective in what Grimes wants to do in life, which includes possible employment in the criminal justice department.

“I think the Highway Patrol is something I would like to do,” she said. “I went on a ride-a-long, and I liked it.”

The women’s team, led by Grimes, will have a solid chance at a top 10 finish in the state because of a supporting cast that includes top 10 finishers in the WSC as well. Jodi Calderon finished sixth and Erica Silva finished seventh in the WSC. Other SoCal finishers who will participate in the state meet are be Stacy Edwards, Alexis Vasquez, Bethany Lopez and Valerie Taylor.

“Grimes is our No. 1 runner,” Kelly said. “But it’s important that we give her some people to back her up. We have some solid sophomores that have placed in the conference to help lead the team, also.”

Perezchica, a sophomore will pace the men in the state meet.

“Just like Brittany, Giovanni is one of the best runners in the state,” said Bob Covey, the men’s cross country coach.

Perezchica also finished the season as a WSC champion and placed sixth at the SoCal championships at San Luis Obispo.

His finish helped the men to a 12th place finish, earning the team a trip to the state meet.

Perezchica covered the 4.2-mile course in 22 minutes and 53 seconds.

Other SoCal finishers from BC who will compete for the men in the state meet will be Jason Lewis, Carlos Cabanillas, Steven Cavazos and Oswaldo Velasquez.

With the leadership of Perezchica, the men should finish in the top 20 in the state.

“This is the first time in four or five years that we have had a WSC champion in cross-country,” Covey said. “He is an outstanding leader and a very good runner.”