Last season was a great one for the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference as Cuyamaca College finished second at the state finals and San Bernardino Valley College finished 16th. This season the conference returns a number of stars and the results could be up for grabs.
Cuyamaca is the defending PCAC champion, but with three of the top four runners from 2017 graduating, the race for the 2018 title could be wide open. The Coyotes return Courtney Clifford, who ran third at the PCAC Finals and 22nd at the California Community College Athletic Association State Finals in November.
San Bernardino Valley is the odds-on favorite to knock Cuyamaca off its throne. The Wolverines were a freshman-dominated squad last season and return their top five runners from last season. Alyssa Benavidez finished sixth at the PCAC Finals last year and had a sensational run at the state finals, finishing 11th. Lilly Armendariz was 13th at the PCAC Finals and finished 113th at the CCCAA State Finals. Kiani Fernandes was 16th at the PCAC Finals before running 147th at the state finals. Darilyn Hernandez is also back after finishing 19th at the PCAC Finals and 138th at the state finals. The Wolverines also return Vanessa Arlt, who was 24th at the PCAC Finals before finishing 146th in Fresno.
College of the Desert was a sophomore-dominated team in 2017 and will have a lot of new faces in 2018. The one returning star is Brandi Lopez, who could challenge for the PCAC title. Lopez finished 9th at the PCAC Finals in Oceanside last fall and ran 6th among all freshmen in the race.
If there's a dark-horse in the conference, it could be San Diego City College. The Knights had just one sophomore in the lineup a year ago and return a number of solid harriers. Joanna Lopez was the best of the bunch last fall, finishing 8th at the PCAC Finals and 93rd in the state.
Palomar was another team that was freshmen-dominated last season and if they all return could challenge the top of the standings. Hannah Lopez was the top Comet a year ago, finishing 5th at the PCAC Finals and 66th at the state finals.
Following the trend, Southwestern College was all freshman in 2017 and if they all return could create a logjam at the top of the PCAC. The top expected returner is Xeomara Villalobos, who was 10th at the PCAC Finals before running 110th in Fresno.
Imperial Valley finished fourth at the PCAC Finals last fall, with all five of the top runners finishing in the top-35. The good news is, they were all freshmen so if they all decide to return they could be tough. The best finisher from the PCAC Finals was Denise Chavez, who crossed the tape in 21st at the PCAC Finals last fall.
San Diego Mesa lost some of its top runners from last season but return two that finished in the top-45 at the PCAC Finals. Beth Horton ran 39th at the PCAC Finals while Crystal Villagran was 44th.
The 2018 season starts up this weekend with meets in Ventura and San Bernardino. Most teams in the conference will be on hand at the Palomar Invitation on September 7.