MJC women 6th, men 8th in S.F. meet

Ana Mendes and Benny Perez didn't let cool Bay Area weather slow them down Thursday.

The Modesto Junior College cross country runners led the way for the Pirates at the Lou Vasquez Invitational at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Mendes, a freshman from Livingston, finished the 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) race fourth overall and was the top runner from Northern Calfornia in 19 minutes, 21 seconds. There were 135 runners.

"I'm so proud of her, especially for not knowing much about distance running when she came in," coach Mary Shea said. "She understands pacing and rhythm. She battled a De Anza girl who beat her by 30 seconds last week."

Natalie Benoy got up after a fall three-quarters of the way through the race to finish 30th in 21:31. The Pirate women finished sixth out of 13 teams.

In the men's 4-mile, Perez ran his best race of the season to finish 19th in 21:32. John Rea was 34th in 21:59 and Eric Bond was 42nd in 22:08. The men were eighth out of 16 teams and 157 individuals.

"Our top three runners did great," coach Demitrius Snaer said. "They ran within 30-45 seconds of each other. Benny had been practicing real well all week so we thought he'd have a good race."