Both Men and Women Vying for Title

    For the first time since 2003, both the UCSD men’s and
    women’s cross country teams will be going to the NCAA Division II National
    Championship, which will be held in Joplin, Mo. on Nov. 17. While the women
    will be making their sixth straight appearance at the nationals, the men will
    be running at the championships for the first time in four years.

    Sophomore Jesse Morrill led the men’s cross country team to qualify for nationals with his time of 31 minutes, 44.53 seconds in th 10K race, ranking 24th out of 125. The rest of the men’s team finished in the top 31. (Sanh Luong/Guardian)

    To qualify for nationals, the Tritons had to compete against
    the top competitors on the West Coast on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 at the NCAA D-II
    West Regional in Boise, Idaho. Both teams excelled, with the men
    taking the third spot and the women grabbing fourth, both good enough to earn a
    trip to Missouri.

    For a team that was not expected to make it to nationals,
    the Triton men are in the great position of competing with relatively little
    pressure.

    “We don’t have anything to lose, so we’re going to give it
    our all and see how high we can go,” senior captain Ryan Becijos said. “We have
    such a strong pack this year that we hope to just get in the mix at nationals
    and hopefully we can get into the top ten.”

    On the men’s side, UCSD sent five runners to the West
    Regional, and all five of them placed in the top 31 of a field of 125
    participants. Sophomore Jesse Morrill, whose time of 31 minutes, 44.53 seconds
    was good enough for 24th place in the 10K race, paced the Tritons. With times
    of 31:58.53 and 32:01.13 respectively, junior Kevin Klein and senior Greg
    Geldman grabbed the 27th and 28th spots. Rounding out the Tritons’ top five
    finishers were junior Daniel Anderson with a time of 32:07.48 and sophomore Max
    Mullender with 32:08.12, in 30th and 31st place respectively.

    The Triton men took their third-place finish with a total of
    135 team points, five points ahead of Western Oregon University, and Becijos
    was proud of the way his team was able to succeed in the West Regional.

    “It is pretty shocking how well both teams did at
    regionals,” Becijos said. “But this year we knew that we had a really solid
    team and we were able to put it all together.

    According to Becijos, the Tritons had been eyeing the West
    Regional since they began their campaign in late August.

    “We were really focused and determined all year,” he said.
    “Regionals was our biggest goal of the season, and we knew we could go out and
    get it. It really means a lot to me because as a senior I haven’t seen a team
    go to nationals in all my years and to finally be a part of a team, and to be
    leading a team that is going, is awesome. I’m so proud of all the guys who went
    out there all year, not only of the guys who are going to nationals but every
    man on the team.”

    The Triton women will be making what has become an annual
    trip to the NCAA National Championships, and this year were led by senior
    captain Dianne Dunn.

    Dunn, who earned All-West Region Honors, finished seventh
    overall with her time of 21:04 in the 6K women’s race. Senior Emily McGregor and junior Ashleigh
    Montgomery continued UCSD’s success with respective times of 21:26 and 21:49,
    earning 17th and 27th place finishes. Senior Amanda Burkhardt ended the race in
    22:02, while California Collegiate Athletic Association Freshman of the Year
    Jessie Bodenhamer ran her course in 22:15, good enough for 34th and 40th place,
    respectively.

    UCSD has proven that it can handle the physical demands of
    winning at the national level, but according to Becijos, a team’s mental
    stamina could be the determinant of a national championship.

    “Now it comes down to being prepared and ready to take it on
    mentally,” Becijos said.

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