Cross country places in top three

    The UCSD men’s and women’s cross-country teams each marshaled top-three performances at the 2003 California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, held at Bidwell Park in Chico, Calif., on Oct. 25. Four other Tritons earned All-CCAA honors, while standouts Steve Vargas and Tina Firouz were named Freshmen of the Year. The hosting Wildcats of Chico State defended their team titles on both the men’s and women’s side, but the Tritons provided tough competition and greatly improved on past performances.

    Jennifer Downs/Guardian file
    What a finish: The UCSD women’s cross country team finished in second place and the men’s team finished third in the CCAA Championships on Oct. 25.

    The UCSD women, ranked 16th in the nation in the NCAA Division II and second in the West Region, finished as runner-up to Chico State in the 10-team field, accumulating 73 points to the Wildcats’ 28. The Tritons made an improvement; a fourth-place finish was garnered in 2002.

    The Triton men, meanwhile, finished safely in third among five teams, collecting 60 points to place behind Chico State (27) and Cal Poly Pomona (49). Historically potent powerhouse UC Davis was ineligible for competition, due to their impending reclassification to Division I, thereby slightly lightening the traditionally competitive nature of the meet.

    UCSD had accomplished a fourth-place finish on the men’s side at the 2002 CCAA Championships in Bakersfield, but appeared at this year’s CCAA meet refreshed and with intensive training, a strong mental state and a fresh crop of talent.

    Individually, UCSD had a total of four runners garner All-CCAA honors, two each for the men and the women, while also boasting the Freshman of the Year in both. The top 15 runners in each race earned All-CCAA recognition.

    Freshman sensation Firouz showed her adaptation to fierce college competition over the past year, touring the over 6,000 meters in a fast 22:02.6 to turn in a fourth-place performance out of 87 competitors.

    It was noted as being the second-best finish ever for a Triton freshman at the meet, after Carolyn Jones’ third-place effort in 1999.

    Junior Lindsay Stalker also showed marked improvement over the past year, and joined Firouz on the All-CCAA team with a 10th-place finish by racing 22:24.3.

    The seventh-ranked UCSD men’s team made many commanding performances, including that of senior Neil Kalra, who made the best individual performance for the men. Kalra earned All-CCAA honors for the second consecutive year, besting his 10th-place finish from 2002 by running the 8,000-meter course in 24:37.7; a time good enough for fourth place.

    In his first-ever conference meet, junior Robert Eap made it onto the All-CCAA Team by running 11th in a 43-person field, clocking 25:19.7. Sophomore Carl Lostrom narrowly missed out on conference honors, winding up 16th for the second season in a row with a time of 25:44.1. Following quick on the heels of Lostrom across the finish line in 17th and 18th place, respectively, were sophomore Chris Beetley-Hagler (25:46.7), who recently distinguished himself at the Triton Cross Country Classic, and senior Julian Nahan (25:49.3).

    Seniors John Morrison (19th, 25:49.6) and Eric Nilsen (20th, 25:52.5), Vargas (23rd, 26:10.0), Richey Hansen (26th, 26:44.5) and sophomore Kevin Ray (29th, 27:09.1) were the other UCSD runners. Vargas was named CCAA Freshman of the Year following the meet.

    The remaining point-scorers for the UCSD women were sophomore Michelle DiMeo (18th, 22:41.3) and seniors Amanda Felder (19th, 22:41.6) and Kathy Read (22nd, 22:51.2).

    Senior Lillian Gardiner (28th, 23:02.8) and sophomores Erin O’Donnell (29th, 23:03.8), Nina Miller (30th, 23:04.4), Lindsey Young (39th, 23:36.8) and Mimi Hodgins (45th, 24:04.5) were the rest of the UCSD racers.

    Chico State senior Tyler Graff completed the meet with a record-breaking time of 24:21.8, which made him the individual winner of the men’s race, also earning him CCAA Men’s Runner of the Year honors.

    Cal Poly Pomona’s Mark Batres, who won the event as a freshman in 2002, placed third with a respectable time of 24:34.6, but, hindered by a severe flu, trailed teammate Daniel Rojas (24:25.4). Sophomore Sarah Bouchard of Cal State L.A. became the second Golden Eagle in several years to win the women’s event, racing 21:21.6 to become the CCAA Women’s Runner of the Year.

    Juniors Katie Lee (21:40.6) and Missy Lendl (21:50.7) of champion Chico State captured the second and third position, but still only slightly ahead of Firouz. Cal Poly Pomona coach Jim Sackett and Chico State’s Gary Towne received CCAA Coach of the Year honors for the men and women, respectively.

    With a satisfying series of meets behind them, the Tritons will now take a well-deserved week off to prepare for the 2003 NCAA Division II West Regional in Chino Hills, Calif., on Nov. 8.

    Both the men and the women hope to qualify for return trips to the NCAA Division II Nationals after the women placed 17th in their first-ever appearance a year ago, and the men took 15th in their first and only the NCAA Division II National Meet in 2001.

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