Tritons take fourth in conference meet

    UCSD men’s and women’s cross country teams had a disappointing finish at this past weekend’s California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in Cal State Bakersfield, with both teams taking fourth place. Both teams were ranked third in the West region of the CCAA heading into the meet.

    “”We were flat,”” said head coach Dan Van Arsdale. “”They raced as fast as they could race, but they struggled a bit. The teams’ psychology has been directed towards the regional and nationals, and I did not have them correctly prepared for the conference.””

    On the women’s side, Audrey Sung had her best-ever showing at the CCAA meet, finishing second to Cal State Los Angeles’ Annmarie Houson with a time of 21:21.27 in the 6,000-meter race. Sung earned All-CCAA honors, which is awarded to the top 15 runners in each race, for the second consecutive year to go along with her academic All-American and track and field All-American status.

    Following Sung were Tritons Lillian Gardiner, who finished 19th with a time of 22:14.04; Meghan Bellotti (27th); Lindsay Stalker (31st); Kara Cross (35th); Mimi Hodgins (37th); and Erin O’Donnell in 38th place.

    Though the teams’ outcomes were disappointing, according to Van Arsdale, there were still standout performances, including the run turned in by Sung, whose mark was a school record.

    “”It’s the fastest 6K time we’ve ever had in our school history,”” Van Arsdale said. “”She ran what we prepped for. Unfortunately for our team, it wasn’t enough.””

    Sung was not the only one who earned praise from her coach.

    “”Lillian really took care of her responsibility,”” Van Arsdale said. “”[Cross] has steadily moved from early fall until now and earned her way onto the ‘A’ squad. She’s kept her mind on what we’re trying to do with this team.””

    Chico State upended four-time defending women’s champion UC Davis for its first ever CCAA conference title by a final score of 48-55.

    Each runner is awarded a point value equal to their finish, and the point totals for the top five runners for every team are added to calculate the total team score, with the lowest total crowning the champion.

    The top five Wildcat runners were all among the top 12 finishers. Previously unranked Cal State Stanislaus snuck up on the field, finishing third among 11 squads with 91 points, and UCSD totaled 106 points to improve on last year’s fifth-place showing.

    “”Chico epitomized the program that I know we will be,”” Van Arsdale said. “”They went at the race on both sides to win and they weren’t afraid to lose in doing that.””

    Neil Kalra was the top performer for the Triton men, finishing 10th out of 49 runners to earn All-CCAA honors for the first time.

    Narrowly missing out an All-Conference award was Carl Lostrom, who finished 16th with a time of 25:58.50. Following were Tov Fisher-Kirshner (20th), a cold-stricken David Dunbar (23rd), John Morrison (24th), Alan Shapiro (25th) and Devin Callister (29th) to round out the top-seven UCSD finishers.

    “”[Kalra] raced the way the rest of our team will race the next time out,”” Van Arsdale said. “”All-conference honors for him — we haven’t had that in three years. Tov, like Kara, has moved up the ranks. He and Carl together really helped pick up for the other guys who were really flat.””

    The men’s team, who placed third last year, finished with 91 team points, two behind Cal State Stanislaus for third place among six teams. Chico State, with four of the six best marks, had equal success in the men’s race, defeating four-time defending men’s champion UC Davis, 28-39, for its first-ever CCAA title.

    The team will look to have a better showing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II West Regionals at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif., on Nov. 2. From there, the top three teams will advance to the NCAA Division II National Championships at Ashland University in Ohio on Nov. 23. In addition to the top three teams, the top two individual runners from the regional who are not on qualifying teams will earn national championship berths, as Dunbar did in 2000.

    “”Their emotional and psychological status has been oriented towards regionals,”” Van Arsdale said. “”I expect they will be willing to work as a unit and accept their roles on the team. We just need a little luck as far as the health goes, and if we maintain the basics, we’ll be there where it counts in the end.””

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