Runners rebound at NCAA regionals

    The UCSD women’s and men’s cross country teams regrouped from disappointing conference finishes and placed third and fourth, respectively, at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Western Regional Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif., on Nov. 9.

    By placing among the top three teams, the women’s team will advance to the NCAA Division II National Championships, while the men’s team narrowly missed a second-consecutive trip to nationals.

    The meet, which was hosted by Cal State Stanislaus, was composed of teams from the California Collegiate Athletic Association, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Pacific West Conference, and is one of the eight regional meets that together will compromise the national championship.

    On the women’s side, the Tritons’ Audrey Sung continued her stellar season with a third-place finish among 131 runners with a time of 22:07 in the 6K race, good for her first All-West Region Team honor. Sung, who finished second to Cal State Los Angeles’ Annmarie Houson for the conference title, radically improved from her 25th-place finish last year, but could not hold off the red shirt freshman phenom, who won her third-consecutive meet on Nov. 9.

    Following Sung for UCSD was Lillian Gardiner (24th), Meghan Bellotti (28th), Mimi Hodgins (35th), Erin O’Donnell (36th), Lindsay Stalker (51st) and Kara Cross (60th).

    Neil Kalra, coming off his first-ever All-CCAA award, added an All-West Region Team honor to his resume with a 14th-place finish (33:29) to lead the Triton men. The region award, much like the CCAA award, is given to the top 15 finishers in their respective meet. David Dunbar just missed becoming the second Triton on the all-region team with a 16th place finish among 118 runners. Following Dunbar was Alan Shapiro (22nd), John Morrison (24th), Carl Lostrom (37th), Tov Fisher-Kirshner (39th) and Stephen Martin (76th).

    The CCAA swept all three national championship berths, with UC Davis narrowly beating out Chico State 86-91 for the women’s title, a form of revenge for the Aggies, who had their four-year CCAA championship run broken by the Wildcats two weeks ago. UCSD finished third out of 20 teams with 126 points in its best-ever showing at the Division II regional meet.

    The men’s results were similar to last year’s race, with the same top-four teams, but this time with Chico State handily defeating four-time defending regional champion UC Davis 43-86 for the title.

    The University of Alaska-Anchorage denied UCSD another national championship berth, finishing third of 16 teams with 105 points to the Tritons’ 113. Last season the Tritons, with a fourth-place finish as well, advanced to the national meet. But this year, the Western Region’s fourth berth was eliminated, leaving Anchorage as the final regional representative.

    Heading into the conference championships, both teams were ranked third in the region before a poor showing at Cal State Bakersfield dropped both to sixth in the polls heading into the regional meet. By rebounding from the conference meet, the women’s team, which finished 12th at last year’s western regional race and did not qualify for the national meet, will compete in its first-ever Division II National Championship at Ashland University in Ohio on Nov. 23.

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