Two Cross Country Seniors Place in Top Half of Cross Country Championships

Photo from UCSD Athletics
Photo from UCSD Athletics

While UCSD was still asleep, two seniors, Brendan Gee and Tareq Alwafai, competed in the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in St. Leo, Florida last weekend. They qualified as individuals two weeks ago in the NCAA West Region Championships by finishing in the top 10 of their 10K race. At St. Leo, Gee crossed the finish line in 59th (31:41.5) and Alwafai in 101st (32:17.7), both respectably finishing in the top half of the 242-man race.  

With clear skies and a cool 60 degrees, the men took to the starting line at 5:30 a.m. The teammates stayed together for most of the race and, at the halfway point, they were only separated by five seconds with Alwafai in 45th place and Gee in 54th. In the last kilometer, however, Alwafai struggled to keep up with the pack and fell to 101st while Gee maintained his pace and finished in 59th.

“I’m really pleased with how our men went after it today,” head coach Nate Garcia told the UCSD Athletics Department. “At the NCAA meet, you have to commit early on, and both of our men did that. While they weren’t able to move up as much as we had hoped, they fought hard to the end.”

Sophomore Vincent Kiprop of Missouri Southern University won the race in 29:07.4, while Adams State University won the team title with 54 points. The NCAA West Region champs, Chico State, finished in fourth with 166 points.

This marked the last cross country race for Gee and Alwafai. Gee gradually improved over his four seasons, from being a scorer in only a couple of races his freshman year to being a consistent top scorer in his final season. Alwafai, who was co-freshman of the year in his 2012 season, had been a steady fixture for the team. He ran his way to the NCAA Championships his sophomore year as an individual, where he improved UCSD’s course record. Gee and Alwafai finish their illustrious seasons with All-CCAA and All-West Region honors. Alwafai also twice earned UCSDtritons.com Athlete of the Week accolades.

Though UCSD will be losing two reliable runners in Gee and Alwafai, 10 Tritons from the women’s side and 12 from the men’s will be returning next season.

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