SPOKANE, Wash. – Sophomore Tareq Alwafai represented the UC San Diego cross country program at the 2013 National Championship meet on Saturday with a top-100 showing at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex. On a morning that reached a high of 37 degrees, Alwafai gained important experience at the national level and improved his time from the West Regional meet by 11 seconds that was run on the same course two weeks ago.
"We are really proud of how Tareq handled himself today,” said head coach Nate Garcia. “He improved his time from two weeks ago and put himself in a place to be successful today.”
The Aliso Viejo native finished 100th overall and crossed the finish line with a mark of 32:15.2, besting his regional time of 32:26.2 to set a new UCSD course record. At the halfway point, Alwafai was in 83rd place with a strong time of 15:37.9. Overall, there were a total of 246 runners in the race.
Representing the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), the Chico Wildcats finished sixth as a team while the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos finished eighth out of 32 teams. On an individual level, Alwafai finished ahead of San Francisco State’s individual qualifier, Bruk Assefa. The Gators’ Assefa placed 121st with a time of 32:33.4.
Adams State finished the meet as the 2013 NCAA Division II champions after totaling 54 points, while Grand Valley State claimed second with 104 points. Adams State’s Tabor Stevens grabbed the individual title after running 29:50.1.
"The most important takeaway from today is the experience Tareq gained at the National level,” said Garcia. “This will be a huge benefit to him moving forward."
Alwafai represented the UCSD cross country program at the national level for the first time since 2008 and returns for his junior season in 2014. The Tritons will return a core group of runners for next season, but graduate Kellen Levy, Matt Lenehan, Mario Flores, Benjamin Rich and Ryan Lok on the men’s side. The women also return a group from a strong 2013 season, only losing Chia Chang and Ximena Cruz to graduation.