Women Run Away With Triton Classic

    The No. 14 UCSD women’s cross country team narrowly outran No. 17 Cal State Los Angeles to regain its Division II title Oct. 17 in the 2006 Triton Cross Country Classic.

    The title went down to the wire. Not only were the teams separated by a mere point, but UCSD’s final time was only one-tenth of a second faster than Cal State Los Angeles’ time.

    “Cal State Los Angeles has a very good team this year, and they gave us some good competition,” said junior Emily McGregor, who finished 11th overall (fourth among Division II competitors).

    Entering last weekend’s tournament, Cal State Los Angeles was unranked nationally, but the team improved to 17th place after its impressive performance in the Triton Classic.

    Cal State Los Angeles runner Karla Alburez was first to cross the line, beating UCSD alumna Julie Swail and UCLA’s Olga Aulet-Leon for first place overall. UCLA won the Division I title with a perfect score of 15, with all of its runners placing in the top five in a field of five divisional teams.

    However, the race for the Division II title was no blowout. This year, UCSD just escaped with the division title at the Triton Classic.

    “We worked very well together as a team,” McGregor said. “We had a very tight pack from one to five, which is what you need to win a meet.”

    Despite being sick earlier in the week, UCSD senior team captain Diane Dunn finished first for the Tritons — second among divisional runners — ahead of McGregor, junior Amanda Burkhardt and sophomore Ashleigh Montgomery, who finished fourth, fifth and ninth, respectively, among divisional competitors.

    Once the first four Cal State Los Angeles runners took four of the places among divisional runners, the tournament title came down to the finishes of UCSD senior Nina Miller and Cal State Los Angeles runner Shawna Burger. Miller needed to finish at least two spots ahead of Burger for UCSD to take the title.

    Miller did just that with a closing surge that gave her the 10th place position, ahead of Burger in 12th place. The Tritons repeated as Division II tournament champions by a single point over Cal State Los Angeles, 31-30.

    The men’s race ended in a bit of a controversy when no team or individual awards were handed out because a discrepancy in the course caused some runners to accidentally take the wrong route, which was shorter by approximately 800 meters.

    “A gap between the lead pack and the second pack of racers permitted some athletes, who did not study the course prior to racing, to take a different trail, leading that second pack to a shortcut merge with the lead pack,” head coach Ted Van Arsdale said. “Many of the second pack actually finished ahead of the true race leaders. Due to the integrity of the other teams’ coaches, we were able to siphon out the actual top 20 runners, who did run the correct course.”

    Despite figuring out which racers took the wrong course, all times were deemed unofficial because of the confusion.

    “All the places were sorted out in the end,” sophomore Jake LeVieux said. “But the teams were not scored because the whole thing messed up the way many people ran. This resulted in mass confusion. … There should have been someone there to direct everyone at that intersection.”

    LeVieux finished 18th overall according to unofficial times, and UCSD would have finished two points behind Cal Poly Pomona if the race had been made official. Only one Triton runner took the wrong course.

    Despite the course discrepancy, the performance of the younger Triton runners was impressive. Freshmen Jesse Morrill and Max Mullender finished first for UCSD, ahead of LeVieux and senior team captain Dan Holligan.

    “These young guns demonstrated they are real gamers,” Van Arsdale said.

    The Triton Classic should provide an excellent barometer for the upcoming California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, which will be held at the same course on Oct. 22.

    “I expect the team will do really well,” McGregor said. “We have been training really well together and think all the heard work will pay off when it is most important. We also have a home-course advantage and we know our course very well.”

    The women’s team has performed well thus far, but the Tritons must upset No. 10 Seattle Pacific University and No. 11 Chico State if they hope to repeat as CCAA champions this season.

    Van Arsdale is confident that his runners will be adequately prepared for the challenge that lies ahead.

    “We have had a magical season since the team rolled through tryouts,” Van Arsdale said. “Every aspect of our training and travels has worked out easily. The athletes get along incredibly well, perhaps because of their sense of confidence in their objective. When a team works this well together, it typically ends in a successful finish.”

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