Season Lost in San Francisco Fog

    Picture 42CROSS COUNTRY — Despite a strong performance on Nov. 7 at the NCAA Division-II West Regional Championships, the UCSD cross-country team closed its season sooner than expected.

    The Tritons travelled to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif., to compete against 25 teams from across the state. The women’s team finished seventh while the men’s team took ninth. The race means a disappointing early end to the season, as both squads failed to qualify for the NCAA Division-II National Championships.

    The Tritons showed several outstanding individual performances, beginning with junior Bre Schofield’s 18th-place finish. Schofield’s time of 21:52 in the 6K course was only 18 seconds behind conference champion Vivien Wadeck of Cal State Los Angeles, making her the Tritons’ top overall finisher of the day. Sophomore Elena Inouye finished 37th overall with a time of 22:52, besting her 51st-place finish at last year’s regional meet. Senior Marie Schaper, sophomore Aaryn Kobayashi and junior Brianna Alban also finished strong for the team.

    “The women raced well, but we just weren’t as fast as some of those elite squads out there,” head coach Nate Garcia said. “But I have to appreciate the effort I saw out there, even when it wasn’t going the way we wanted.”

    Three of the top five individual women finishers were from the University of Alaska Anchorage’s champion team, which narrowly edged out California Collegiate Athletic Association champion Chico State.

    Western Washington University and Seattle Pacific University joined Alaska Anchorage and Chico State as qualifiers for the national championships, which will take place on Nov. 21 in Evansville, Ind. Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific broke the tape with a first-place time of 20:08 — over 30 seconds faster than the second-place runner.

    On the men’s side, sophomore Jeremy Riley led the way for the Tritons with a time of 32:58 in the 10K, which earned him a 35th-place finish. Senior Mike Wright followed close behind in 43rd, coming in at 33:26. Sophomores Alex Corliss and John Svet and junior Eric Baum rounded out the scoring for UCSD’s men — all making their first career appearances at the regional meet.

    Despite a disappointing final score, Garcia said he saw many positive developments in his team’s regional performance.

    “We had some really good grouping, with our three top runners all running together,” Garcia said. “We had emphasized the idea of showing heart, and I feel like the men’s team did that. I saw them fight for every inch of that 10K.”

    Conference rival Chico State won the meet on the men’s side by placing all five of their scoring runners in the race’s top 20. Alaska Anchorage’s Marko Chesto won the men’s race with a time 30:42. Western Washington and Alaska Anchorage also qualified for the national championships on the men’s side. All seven of the teams that advanced were ranked in the top 25 nationally.

    After a slow start in the meet, senior Mike Wright picked up the pace and motivated his fellow Tritons to join him in one final push for the season.

    “We were somewhat scattered when we first started, and our senior Mike brought us together in a tight group,” Baum said. “It really showed leadership on his part.”

    The Triton men came into the meet ranked 10th in the region, but came away in ninth place overall — an improvement they hope to build on next year.

    “To make that step is something we were pleased with,” Garcia said. “Stanislaus had a strong one-two punch for their top runners and that was difficult to deal with, but at the end of the day, going from 10th to ninth is something you have to be pleased with.”

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