Freshman Kimberly Pena, who burst onto the women’s cross-country scene from Eastvale Roosevelt High School, logged an impressive Inland Empire Athletic Conference (IEAC) championship for San Bernardino Valley College last fall.

It was back on Oct. 25 last year at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga that Pena was deployed by SBVC coach Eric Abrams to win in 20 minutes and 45 seconds over 5,000 meters.

A 14th place at the state finals ⎯ not a bad finish out of a women’s program that has struggled through the years ⎯ got her enough notice to land at Sonoma State this fall.

There’s a setback on that particular nugget: The California Collegiate Athletic Association, which includes Sonoma State, Cal Poly Pomona and nearby Cal State San Bernardino, among other campuses, has already suspended fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be a full year before Pena gets a chance to run competitively.

It didn’t take long for the 4-foot-11 Pena, however, to gain notice. Rumbling into SBVC from Roosevelt ⎯ which runs in a fairly strong Big VIII League ⎯ Pena copped All-American honors as an SBVC freshman last fall.

Said Abrams: “This young lady has incredible work ethic. She will forever go down as the very first conference champion in any sport in the history of the Inland Empire Athletic Conference.”

SBVC joined the IEAC after its own conference was disbanded from the previous year. Last year’s IEAC had just four teams ⎯ SBVC, Norco College, Chaffey and College of the Desert in what turned out to be a 23-woman race.

SBVC tied with Chaffey, 37-37, in the team portion.

Two weeks after winning her IEAC crown, Pena ran seventh (19:51) at the Southern California Regional’s at Mission Bay in San Diego. At the state finals at Woodward Park in Fresno, Pena ran 14th (19:11).

Curiously, Pena’s twin sister, who is not a runner, was slated to attend Cal State East Bay-Hayward, which is about one hour away from Sonoma State.

“I hope,” said Abrams, “she continues to prosper.”

WOMEN’S COLLEGE SOCCER

Caitlyn Sauceda, whose play at midfield helped San Bernardino to strong outcomes in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, is headed to the University of Indianapolis this fall.

A San Bernardino Cajon product, Sauceda helped turn a strong Lady Wolverines’ side into an even more dangerous squad with her attacking skills.

In 46 career matches at SBVC, Sauceda produced 24 goals, including seven game-winners, plus 16 assists on a squad that had plenty of playmakers.

All of which helped produce a variety of individual accolades, including two-time All-Region and All-State recognition, plus two more spots on the All-West Region by the United Soccer Coaches.

She was Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, the year when SBVC landed in the state’s championship finals.

Indianapolis finished 11-3-1 in last season’s Great Lakes Conference race, the Greyhounds reaching the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL

Three sports kept Irene Carter busy at San Bernardino Valley College.

It earned Grand Terrace High product Irene Carter a shot at an NCAA Division II volleyball opportunity at Livingstone (N.C.) College.

A five-foot-nine middle blocker, Carter spent time on three of SBVC’s intercollegiate sports rosters ⎯ volleyball, plus brief stints on the basketball team and a short spurt on the track & field team.

It was spring 2018 when Carter opted for the track squad, according to campus officials.

By last fall, she was back on SBVC’s volleyball team, offering up a final tally that totaled 169 kills over two seasons. This past winter, she spent time on the Lady Wolverines’ basketball team.

Carter, a liberal arts major, who got her associate in arts degree, is offering coaching services this summer before heading back east. You can reach Carter at carter.irene98@gmail.com for more information.

ARTHUR ASHE SCHOLARSHIP

Cal State San Bernardino goalkeeper Carly Luna, a semifinalist for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Scholarship Award, tried hard to claim that honor beyond just classroom and athletic achievement.

The Lady Coyotes’ communication studies major had devoted some time to American Red Cross blood drives, plus work with children at nearby Loma Linda Hospital dating back to 2018.

Instead of Luna, the female honor went to Texas A&M swimmer Raena Eldridge, who won the award ahead of a large pool of nationwide nominees.

Arthur Ashe was a Wimbledon tennis champion and died at age 49.

His scholar award goes to students of color from nominees across the country based on classroom excellence, athletic prominence and community service commitments.

Rodrigo Blankenship, a football player from the University of Georgia, was the male recipient.

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