Cross country runners collapse from heat

Kat Mabry / Roundup, Dan Cromar / Roundup, Tyler McGee / Roundup

Several high school cross country runners were transported to local hospitals today after suffering from heat related injuries during an event at the Pierce course.

At least 12 athletes were treated by paramedics and 10 were transported, according to Sheriff Security Officer Valenzuela.

According to the Pierce College Weather Station, the temperature at 3:30 p.m., when the race started, was 96 degrees and 20 percent humidity. When the race was called off at 3:57 p.m. the temperature was 95 degrees.

“They should have canceled it earlier, a lot of people weren’t up to it,” said junior cross country runner Karen Ragazo, a participant at the meet from Reseda High School who watch two fellow teammates be transported to the hospital.

The meet was the first of five duel meets of the season.  Prior to today’s event teams were given the option to not participate due to concerns of the heat.

One coach, who chose to remain anonymous, said that Vicky Lagos, assistant California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) commissioner, ignored the concerns of coaches who wanted the event to be canceled all together.

Lagos was a cross country coach at Kennedy High School before taking the assistant commissioner position and is beginning her fifth year with the CIF.

“Obviously we looked at the weather and the humidity,” said Lagos.  “[We] e-mailed them [coaches] throughout the week, make sure your kids are hydrated, make sure they’re trained, that they are properly trained to race.”

The third of four races began at 3:30 p.m.  At 3:56 the event was canceled and the first emergency call went out.

“I’m always concerned about any athlete that gets hurt,” Lagos said.

Runners were still being carted in for treatment 45 minutes later, according to Valenzuela.