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Former Sierra standouts excelling in college

Elam eyeing NCAA West Region cross country title

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Former Sierra standouts excelling in college

Chico State senior Jimmy Elam, a 2005 graduate of Sierra High, aims to lead the Wildcats to their eighth straight NCAA West Region title in San Francisco Saturday.

Photo courtesy of Chico State Athletics/

POSTED November 6, 2009 2:17 a.m.
Jimmy Elam isn’t just making up for lost time. He’s improving it.

The college senior and 2005 Sierra High alumnus is continuing tradition-rich Chico State’s dominating cross country run in the California Collegiate Athletic Association and NCAA.

Elam had to sit out the 2008 cross country season after transferring from Humboldt State, but his impact on the already-stacked Chico State men’s team was immediately felt.

He earned the CCAA Runner of the Year honor after winning the conference meet in San Bernardino on Oct. 25 and led Wildcats to their eighth straight CCAA team title.

Chico State, ranked third in the nation and No. 1 in the West, aims to capture its eighth straight NCAA West Region Championships crown at Speedway Meadow in San Francisco Saturday and qualify for the NCAA Championships for an 11th consecutive season.

The top three men’s teams advance to the NCAA meet set for Nov. 21 at the University of Southern Indiana. The top-15 individual placers earn all-West Region honors.

Elam is the No. 1 runner on a team loaded with talent, including two returning All-Americans. He spearheaded the Wildcats to championships in the Asics/UC Irvine Invitational and Willamette Invitational while posting runner-up individual finishes. He also finished 10th to help the team take fourth in the Stanford Invitational.

Elam made it to the West Region race in his three previous years at Humboldt State but hopes to make it to the NCAA meet in his final shot.

“I don’t feel any pressure, but I’m excited,” Elam said. “We have four really good guys, and any one of us can take it. We have a few All-Americans on our team that know what it’s like to race at these big meets, and I’m more of a novice when it comes to that.”

But it’s what Elam has been working toward since he started running competitively at age 10.

 And Elam does have experience performing on a big stage. Elam got to debut for Chico State during the outdoor track and field season last spring and turned in impressive marks.

His time of 30 minutes, 3 seconds in the 10-kilometer run at the Mount Sac Invitational places him fourth on Chico State’s all-time list. He went on to advance to the the NCAA Championships in San Angelo, Texas and took ninth overall — one spot off All-American recognition.

“It was an awesome experience,” Elam said. “Hopefully I can do something big to end my cross country season, and after that I have one more shot to be an All-American in track.”

Elam was a four-time qualifier for the CIF State Cross Country Championships in high school and was a part of the school’s 2001 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title team as a freshman.

The two-time Bulletin All-Area Male Runner of the Year was the Valley Oak League’s individual champion during his senior season in 2004, when he paced the Timberwolves to their third conference banner in four years.

Former teammates reunite
Lisa Garcia (Class of 2007) and Nicole Vanni (2009) met for the second time Sunday in California Collegiate Athletic Association action, as Garcia’s Stanislaus State Warriors defeated Vanni and host San Francisco State, 1-0, in what was the season finale for both squads.

Garcia, a junior, scored her 11th goal, setting the program’s single-season mark previously held by Marti Teunissen (10, 2005). Teunissen is also a Sierra graduate.

Vanni, the Bulletin’s 2009 Female Soccer Player of the Year, capped her freshman year with three goals and four assists to finish second on the team in points scored.

The two teams previously squared off on Oct. 2 in Turlock, with Garcia punching in both goals for Stanislaus State in a 2-0 victory.

Shutler breaks another record
Sacramento State sophomore Julie Shutler is at it again on the links.

Shutler wrapped up her two-day total at Lamkin Grip/Cal Poly Invitational with a 147 (78-69) to break the women’s golf program record for a 36-hole tournament. Her fifth-place score led the Hornets’ fourth-place team finish, and their team score of 603 is also a new school record.

Shutler set the tone during Sac State’s first tournament of the season in September, as her overall 2-under par score (70-72-72-214) in the Chip-N Club Invitational in Nebraska set the program’s 54-hole record.
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