The Morton College men’s cross country team was eager to make its debut. Being held back a week at the gate made the Panthers even more eager to compete.
The Panthers were the top community college program at the 27th annual Bradley Open September 6 at Peoria’s Detweiller Park and placed third overall in the 10-team College Division meet, won by NCAA Division II member Lewis University.
“The kids were hungry after not running last week,” said Morton College cross country coach Gus Coronado, whose team’s debut at Elmhurst College was canceled due to rain, lightning and high winds. “They’ve prepared hard for this season.”
Morton College ended up with 91 points and finished ahead of three other four-year schools. The Panthers also finished 46 points ahead of fourth-place College of DuPage, which will be Morton College’s main challenger for the Region IV championship.
Coronado isn’t putting a lot of stock into it. He noted COD’s top runners competed unattached.
“All I’m worried about is our team and being ready,” Coronado said. “We just need to stay healthy and continue to improve.”
Alan Guzman, the defending Illinois Skyway and Region IV champion, was Morton College’s top performer. He toured the 4-mile course in 21:04 to place 13th overall and be second among community college runners.
“Alan is Alan,” Morton College cross country coach Gus Coronado said. “He ran a great last mile and was faster at the end. He still had a lot left.”
Ivan de la Rosa (21:45 – 25th) and Eric Diaz (21:52 – 30th) also made favorable showings. Eli Serrato (22:12 – 36th) and Arvin Servin (22:30 – 46th) also enabled the Panthers to record the meet’s third-best split.
On the women’s side, Morton College was 8th of 10 teams. Morton College had 190 points at the meet. Augustana rode a 1-2-4-5 finish to win the meet with 19 points.
Veronica Tovar was Morton College’s top finisher, completing the 3-mile course in 21:32 to place 52nd. Rebecca Bell and Brooke Bell finished 65th (22:23) and 68th (22:45), respectively.
“The women’s team improved from the previous week,” Coronado noted. “We worked on their fundamentals and it showed in the results. They were able to keep their pace.”
Morton College heads to the Illinois Intercollegiate Meet Friday, September 13th, at Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee.
Morton College women’s volleyball coach Tom Malesky was disappointed when Elmhurst College’s junior varsity canceled at the last minute of a scheduled triangular match with Kankakee September 6.
The Panthers improvised and played Kankakee twice. Kankakee, the No. 2 ranked team in Region IV, is a familiar foe in the early part of the season. Of Morton College’s first 10 matches, the Panthers have faced Kankakee three times. The two also are scheduled to meet Wednesday, September 11, in Kankakee.
While the Panthers (3-7) went down to Kankakee in four both times, Malesky was pleased with Morton College’s improvement from the first match to the second. The Panthers are featuring a more diversified attack with the offense coming from a number of different players.
Melissa Villafuerte led the Panthers with a career-high 13 kills and a .324 hitting percentage during Morton College’s 25-15, 25-19, 16-25, 25-14 first-match defeat. Yasmin Lopez (18 digs) and Cassandra Tijerina both added seven kills, while Samantha Rule added 22 assists.
The Panthers registered a season-high 12 blocks during the 25-22, 25-22, 16-25, 25-20 second-match loss. Patrice Silas led the Panthers with five blocks and six aces. She also had six kills as well.
Villafuerte led the Panthers with nine kills and added two blocks. Tijerina and Marlene Valadez both had six kills.
“Melissa had a good first match,” Malesky noted. “We showed some improvement from the first match to the second against Kankakee. I like our balanced attack – we seem to be spreading it around better than we did last year.”
Rule was solid at setter, having just two errors in 207 attempts and setting at a 99 percent success rate.
Morton College opens the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference portion of its schedule against Elgin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 10, in the Henry J. Vais Gymnasium on campus.