It’s been a couple of years, but the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is back with an all-female team for the fabled Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay for law enforcement this weekend, March 23-24.
“Baker to Vegas 2019 is a special year for the women’s team, as there are many new female deputies joining it,” Deputy Kristen Reyes said. “They bring a lot of motivation and positivity that will help us compete with the women of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.”
On Saturday, March 16, several members of the team, and male members of two other OCSD teams, met at Peters Canyon Regional Park for an annual memorial run for Lt. Darrell “Guy” Poncy.
Poncy formed the first OCSD B2V team in 1985. He died, at age 53, days before the women’s team won its division in the 2008 race with a time of 16:25. Poncy was the team’s coach.
The annual 120-mile B2V attracts some 260 teams and 8,000 runners, staff and supporters. Each team has 20 runners and four backup runners. The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) sponsors all three OCSD teams participating in this year’s race.
“Baker to Vegas is the event that brings law enforcement officers together from all across California and beyond,” says Tom Dominguez, president of AOCDS. “Runners and supporters look forward to the race each year for some healthy competition, connection and camaraderie. A good time is just about guaranteed.”
Melanie Cooper, who works in the OCSD’s Economic Crimes Details, has been running on the OCSD team at B2V for the past 17 years.
“It’s been a great place to get together and train and represent our department,” Cooper says. “We have a very inspired team of women who have dedicated themselves to honor the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, our running team, and the legacy we all share.”
After Saturday’s memorial run for Poncy, runners held a brief team meeting to pass out the night-time running vests, T-shirts, B2V leg assignments, and to complete last-minute paperwork.
The team captain this year is Deputy Laurel Yoshimoto.
Corona is the 22-year-old rookie Davis PD officer who in January 2018 was ambushed and shot to death on duty while responding alone to a three-car crash.
Six other law enforcement agencies, including the history-making all-women’s Anaheim PD team, will be honoring Corona by displaying her photos on their bibs.
Reyes was team captain in 2011.
“It’s not an easy task organizing a team of 20-24 runners,” said Reyes, who was a Division I track and cross country runner for Cal State Fullerton. Her recent running accomplishments include 1st Place Masters Female in the Joshua Tree Half Marathon, 1st Place Female in the Law Enforcement National Championship, and 1st Place Female and 2nd overall in the Catalina 10k
“There’s a lot of organizational planning that goes into preparing for the race, and you are also a mentor and coach,” Reyes said. “It’s a balancing act to promote and support your runners. You do your best to make everyone happy, but someone has to assign the tough legs.
“Once the race begins, you’re all over the course checking in on your team, making sure your runners have what they need and are ready to race. After the team finishes, you wait for the race organizers to publish the results….
“I remember being up for almost 27 hours straight that weekend. Although it was an exhausting experience, I appreciated the chance to put together the team. You learn so much about yourself and others.”
Deputy Raianne O’Donnell
Deputy Alexis Geary
Deputy Hana Robertson
Deputy Clara Dossland
Deputy Lindsey Rodgers
Deputy Stephanie Pinedo
Deputy Maria Gutierrez
Deputy Laurel Yoshimoto
Deputy Angie Vargas
SSO Veronica Chavira
Inv. Maria Bowman
Deputy Cynthia Greene
Inv. Melanie Cooper
Deputy Liz McConathy
Deputy Vanessa Briones
Deputy Angela Andrade
Deputy Jacquelyn Mota
Deputy Samantha Siegel
Deputy Kristen Reyes
Deputy Vanessa Barker
Deputy Laurie Schwartz
Deputy Sarah Pavuk