Tritons Host UCSD Invitational

    Traditionally, two weeks before the conference championships, the Triton Invitational serves as a gauge for who is healthy, who is ready to run and, more importantly, who has put in the necessary work to step up big at the CCAA tournament.

    This year, the CCAA tournament will be held at UCSD. And the Triton Invitational is not simply a preparation for conference, but a legitimate measure of what, and whom, UCSD will deliver at the conference championships on Oct. 20. The last time the Triton Invitational was hosted by UCSD was in 2006. The men fell third to distance powerhouse Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona. The women also finished third behind Chico and CSU Los Angeles.

    This Saturday, the men will face competition in their 8k race against Cal Baptist, CSU Northridge, Christian Brothers, Concordia, Hawaii Pacific, Loyola Marymount, Marymount College, Orange Coast College, Point Loma, San Diego, San Diego Christian, Soka, Southwestern, UC Irvine and CCAA competitors in Cal Poly Pomona and CSU Monterey Bay.

    Three juniors have taken up leadership roles for UCSD. Junior Kellen Levy, who has been UCSD’s top runner in every meet he has competed in this season and was UCSD’s second-best runner last year at conference, leads the Tritons this season. Also clocking strong times for the Tritons are juniors Mario Flores and Ben Rich. Flores, took the final scoring position for UCSD at conference, while Rich placed third of UCSD runners and 18th overall last season.

    Levy, Flores and Rich will be critical in pulling along underclassmen standouts freshmen Tareq Alwafai and Scott Acton. The two Tritons led UCSD at their last meet against Cal Baptist. The pair have been consistent all season. The men’s 8k will begin at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 6.

    The women begin their 6k at 9:45 a.m., where UCSD hosts talent from Cal Baptist, Bakersfield, Northridge, Christian Brothers, Concordia, Hawaii Pacific, Loyola Marymount, Marymount College, Orange Coast College, Pacific, Point Loma, San Diego State, San Diego Christian, Soka, Southwestern, UC Irvine, UN Las Vegas and CCAA opponents from Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Los Angeles, CSU Monterey Bay and CSU San Bernardino.

    Last year, sophomore Chia Chang led the Tritons and finished seventh overall in the CCAA. She has continued to dominate the field, and still hasn’t fallen behind any UCSD runner in her past nine races.

    “I feel [the Triton Classic] is a great opportunity for us and me to get a glimpse of the competition of the actual conference course,” Chang said. “It will be similar to a warm up, before the real deal.”

    Chang said that the Tritons have a strong group of runners in 2012.

    “We have a very young and talented team in which I am confident to lead them to success,” Chang said. “This batch of underclassmen is composed and determined that nothing will get in our way.”

    Chang placed third at last year’s Triton Invitational followed shortly after by sophomores Dani Brabender and Michelle LeRoux. Brabender placed third for the Tritons in Conference last year, just behind Michelle LeRoux who also garnered All-CCAA honors. Freshman Marie Diaz and Carolina Guzman have also posted top marks for UCSD. They took seventh and eighth respectively at the UCSD opener in August. This season, senior Elena Inouye returns to the roster after redshirting last year. Inouye is back into form, placing fifth overall at the Lancer Classic hosted by Cal Baptist last week.

    The invite will be vital for Tritons to gain confidence against powerhouses Chico and San Francisco State, as well as Humboldt, CSU Los Angeles and Cal Poly Pomona.

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