Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Tareq Alwafai has his sights set on a top-40 finish.
Alwafai Awaits the 2013 National Championship Meet
Release: Friday 11/22/2013 

Saturday, Nov. 23
2013 NCAA Division II National Championship
Spokane, Wash. • Plantes Ferry Sports Complex
Meet Program Results
Forecast: Sunny with a high of 23F. Winds light and variable.
Watch Live

11:10 a.m. • Men’s competitors called to the start
11:15 a.m. • Begin clerking procedure
11:20 a.m. • Second call to the start line
11:25 a.m. • Start line is cleared of all non-competitors
11:27 a.m. • Runners at the start line for instructions
11:30 a.m. • Start of 10,000-meter championship race

Each team will run seven athletes, with the top-five finishers comprising the final score for each team. The final two crossing the line for each squad may displace scoring runners for other teams. The race will also feature individual runners that have a chance to claim the individual title and place in the top-40 for an All-American accolade.

Plantes Ferry Sports Complex, located in Spokane Valley, is made up of an 80-acre park that contains five softball fields, 12 soccer fields and many hiking trails. The complex has hosted the 2006 USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, the 2010 USA Cross Country National Championships and the 2011 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. The spectator and competitor friendly course is labeled as a fast yet challenging trail. The course is 99 percent grass or dirt and has an elevation of 1,800 feet.

After setting a new UCSD course record and earning All-West Region honors at the NCAA Division II West Regionals on Nov. 9, Tareq Alwafai will represent the Triton cross country program at the national level for the first time since 2008. At the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane, Wash., the sophomore finished the 10k course with a time of 32:26.2 in 14th place to earn his spot in the NCAA Division II National Championship on Saturday. Alwafai has put a strong 2013 campaign together from the start after placing third overall at the UCSD Opener on Sept. 6, crossing the finish line with a time of 21:49.4 in the four mile course. On Sept. 14, the Aliso Viejo native was the top UCSD finisher at the UC Riverside Invitational at 10th overall with a time of 24:42.6 in the 8k course. At the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championships, Alwafai finished 20th with a mark of 25:48.4 in the 6k meet. He has also earned Athlete of the Week twice (9/16, 11/11) in 2013.

The men’s 10k race figures to boil down to the top two teams in the country, Adams State and Western State. Adams State currently sits atop the national ranking at No. 1 at the national meet for the fifth consecutive season, while Western State sits at No. 2. Grand Valley State, ranked No. 3 in the national poll, also figures to make a run at the team title. Rounding out the top five, Chico State put together a solid showing at the CCAA and west region meets and No. 5 Augustana brings a solid squad to the table. On an individual level, the field returns 15 All-Americans from last season that have an opportunity to claim the individual title. The top-40 finishers will be granted an All-American honor in 2013.

UCSD was last represented in the NCAA National Championship race in 2008 by Bre Schofield and Jake LeVieux at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Pa. Schofield earned a 22nd place finish and was named an All-American for her time of 22:19. LeVieux finished in 92nd place and a mark of 33:06. The previous season in 2007, both the Triton men and women’s teams competed at the national level at the Missouri Southern State University Cross Country Course in Joplin, Mo. The Tritons grabbed an 11th place finish on the women’s side while the men finished 20th overall. At the Division II level, UCSD claimed its best finish in 2005 with a seventh overall mark at Prado Park in Chico in head coach Ted Van Arsdale’s final season.

At the NCAA West Regionals on Nov. 9 in Spokane, Wash. at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex, the Triton men just missed qualifying for the championships as a team with a sixth-place finish, while the UCSD women came in 11th. The Tritons finished the day with four runners earning All-West Region honors, led by Alwafai’s 14th-place finish. Tanner Collins of the men’s team also earned the accolade after finishing 17th. The women’s team placed Marie Diaz, who finished 22nd, and Paige Hughes, who came in 23rd, on the All-West Region team.

UCSD competed in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championships on Oct. 26 and placed third in the men’s 8k race and fourth in the women’s 6k meet. Two Triton men earned all-conference honors in the race, as Levy placed 11th with a time of 25:15.8 and Lenehan followed in 12th with a time of 25:17. The women’s squad was powered by Hughes in 16th and was followed by Colquitt in 22nd to finish with a time of 22:56.1. Chico State earned a conference sweep by winning both races.

This season's rosters feature many student-athletes from the San Diego area. The men's list includes Carlos Bojorquez (San Diego/Kearny HS), Brendan Gee (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS), Mike Kloha (San Diego/Westview HS) and Matt Lenehan (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS). Women hailing from San Diego County include Raelene Dearmas (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista Senior HS), Isabella Gallo (San Diego/Westview HS), Paige Hughes (San Diego/Valhalla HS), Michelle Le Roux (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS), Ella Verhees (San Diego/Point Loma HS) and Amanda Weber (San Diego/Westview HS).

Five Tritons earned captain roles this season, including juniors Alia Bales and Anneke Kakebeen and senior Ximena Cruz on the women's side, as well as seniors Mario Flores and Kellen Levy for the men.

UCSD spent 10 days in the Mammoth Lakes region for a high-altitude training camp at the start of 2013. Click here to view a photo gallery from the trip. The Tritons also took Mission Beach by storm at the Row for the Cure event, check out the pictures here. Finally, you can’t have Halloween without the UCSD cross country teams. Check out their photos of their service project and costume design video by clicking here.

Former Triton student-athlete Nate Garcia is in his seventh season as head coach of the UCSD cross country program. He took over the reins in 2007 after spending five seasons as an assistant coach. Garcia was a four-year letterwinner in cross country and track at UCSD from 1996-2000. He earned numerous athletic and academic honors, including All-Academic District VIII and CCAA All-Academic accolades in 2000-01.

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