By Diana Viera
Freshmen Jason Oliver and Toni Lopez are no newbies.
In the first meet of the season against Riverside City College and Golden West College Feb. 19, Oliver came in sixth place in the first heat of the men’s 200-meter dash and second place in the second heat of the men’s 400-meter dash.
“It felt pretty amazing finally getting some wins under my belt. It’s nice because all the hard work is paying off,” Oliver said.
Lopez came in second in the women’s 1500-meter run.
In the first home meet, against Orange Coast College and Golden West College on Feb. 26, Oliver slipped to sixth place in the 400.
On the other side, Lopez stayed in the top three in the races she ran, taking second for the women’s 800-meter and second for the 1500.
She improved her time on the 1500-meter coming in at 4 minutes, 57 seconds compared to 5:01 in the race before.
Last month’s Ben Brown Invitational was the most anticipated meet of all. Running against Division 1 four-year universities, it’s one of the toughest meets on the calendar.
Oliver kept his place in the top four in the eighth heat of the 200 race and finished second in the 400.
In the second heat on the one-mile, Lopez placed ninth out of 16.
“I ran the mile and I hit 5:20 for that,” Lopez said. “It’s pretty amazing because you’re running with Division 1 schools. So for you to be up there with those schools it’s a big deal.”
Oliver and Lopez aren’t the only ones breaking the top 10.
Sophomore Edwin Ortiz-Lopez and freshman Lizeth Luciano also shined.
“I want to go on my own pace and see how I feel because most of the time I stay behind the front runners. On the next meets I’m going to give it my all and see how it goes,” Ortiz-Lopez said.
In the Feb. 19 meet, Ortiz-Lopez hit fifth place in the men’s 1500-meter run in the first heat.
Luciano came in fourth place in the women’s 1500-meter run.
At the Orange Coast and Golden West home meet, Ortiz-Lopez came in third in both the 800 and the 1500.
Luciano came in third in the 800-meter and fourth in the 1500-meter run.
“I was injured for this meet and I was thinking negative, but a teammate motivated and told me to be positive and I went out there and ran my race and I got a good time,” Luciano said.
At the Ben Brown meet against Division 1 universities, Ortiz-Lopez came in third in the mile run out of 11 runners.
Luciano placed 10th in the first heat of the one-mile run.
“We’re doing very well. I couldn’t ask for a better season than this,” Head Coach Miriam Mitzel said.