Watching Marji Gilles compete at Glendale College in 1989 and 1990 was like seeing an athlete in perpetual motion. She competed in so many track and field events for the Vaqueros that she should have been awarded points for just getting to each event on time.
She did cut it close. Like the time after an attempt in the high jump at a meet against Bakersfield, she ran straight to the shot put and made a put in her socks. She didn’t have time to change her cleats and no matter what, she wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to earn points for the Vaqueros. In a performance to remember, Gilles competed in 10 events that day.
Marji earned so many points for the Vaqueros in so many events that it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her the greatest all-round women’s athlete in the history of GCC women’s track and field. She competed in the seven-event heptathlon at the state meet in 1989 and 1990, placing fourth in 1990, and the javelin at the 1990 state finals. She came within inches of qualifying in the long jump as well. Topping her list of accomplishments, though, would have to be winning the state championship in the triple jump at 37-feet, 3 ¼ inches in her final meet as a Vaquero in 1990.
At the Western State Conference finals in 1990, she competed in nine events and scored 39 points, a total not matched by four schools at the meet. The Vaqs scored 99 points that day, and the performance of Gilles helped the squad finish third in team competition. By the way, there were just five athletes on the women’s team that year.
In high school at Burbank High, Gilles routinely scored points in three or four events for the Bulldogs, with the triple jump and long jump being among her favorites. She was an All-American at Burbank and won the CIF Southern Section 3-A title in the triple jump in 1987 with a leap of 36-feet, 8 ½ inches. The triple jump record that she still holds was set and re-set weekly by Gilles during the season as it was at GCC, where she still holds the school record at 38-feet, six inches and in the long jump at 17-feet, seven inches.
Although she was approached by several major schools while at Burbank including West Point, Arizona and UCLA, Gilles says now that "Attending Glendale College was the best decision I could have ever made. It allowed me to compete in several different events without the pressure of excelling at one or two, and I still had time to represent women’s athletics as a member of student government.’’
Gilles transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from Glendale and competed in the triple jump and still ranks among the top-10 jumpers in school history. She is currently a stay at home mom to kids Molli and Miles and along with husband Justin, are all here tonight to see how mom hopped, skipped and jumped her way into the Glendale Community College Athletic Hall of Fame.