RIVERSIDE, Calif. - With a handful of NCAA Division I teams and nearly 30 schools present, the University of California San Diego men’s and women’s cross country teams had a strong showing at the UC Riverside Invitational, Saturday at the UCR Agricultural Operations Course. The Triton men placed fifth in the eight-kilometer invitational, while the women took sixth in the six-kilometer invitational. The UCSD women outside of the top six runners competed in the women’s five-kilometer open and finished 15th.
“I was really pleased with how they raced,” said head coach Nate Garcia. “All three squads raced really well.”
Men’s 8km Invitational
Senior Tareq Alwafai placed eighth individually amongst almost 400 runners to lead the way for the Triton men, finishing the eight-kilometer course in 24:15.5.
“Tareq had a great day,” said Garcia. “It is the fastest time for a Triton on the UC Riverside course.”
Senior Brendan Gee (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) was the next finisher for UCSD at 24:33.2. Roughly three seconds separated senior Terrence Luevano and sophomore Samuel Blake who ran 25:02.5 and 25:05.6 for 40th and 44th place, respectively. Junior Wyler Svoboda rounded out the scorers, crossing the finish line in 55th place for a time of 25:15.4.
The Triton scorers were separated by a minute and finished fifth out of 29 teams with a total of 154 points. Cal Poly took the team win with 62 points. No. 10 Cal Poly Pomona (90 points), Utah Valley (143) and Cal Coast Track Club (148) all finished ahead of UCSD. Gilbert Kigen (23:37.9) of Central Arizona was the individual winner of the race.
Women’s 6km Invitational
The Triton women were led by the duo of sophomore Karina Carstens and senior Ella Verhees (San Diego/Point Loma HS) who finished six kilometers in 21:13.8 and 21:17.9 for 34th and 36th place, respectively, out of 160 runners.
“Karina and Ella were a great 1-2 punch in the front of the women’s race for us,” commented Garcia.
Only 11 seconds separated the next three UCSD scorers. Junior Kristin Semancsin (San Diego/Valhalla HS), junior Skylar Thiel and junior Merin Arft came in 56th (21:44.7), 58th (21:47.5) and 62nd (21:55.6), respectively.
The Tritons placed sixth, scoring 229 points, with a 42-second gap separating the first and fifth finishers. Arkansas won the race with 33 points. Cal Poly (65 points), Cal Coast Track Club (69), UC Santa Barbara (165) and Utah Valley (222) finished in front of UCSD. The individual winner of the race was Peyton Bilo (20:05.4) from Cal Poly.
Women’s 5km Open
The Triton women outside of the top six runners ran in the five-kilometer open race. Freshman Ashley Larson was UCSD’s top finisher in 85th at 19:24.5. Raélene deArmas (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS) and Camille Perkins were next, crossing the finish line in 106th and 118th for a time of 19:40.8 and 19:50.6, respectively. Alexandra Hernandez (El Cajon/Granite Hills HS) and Kailyn Scott rounded out the scorers finishing 142nd and 207th, respectively.
UCSD finished 15th as a team. Arkansas took first with 28 points. Taylor Werner from Arkansas won the race in 16:48.6.
The Tritons will split the squad for their next competition. Select few from the men’s and women’s teams will travel to the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by Minnesota, on Saturday, Sept. 24. Others will compete at the Coyote Invitational, hosted by Cal State San Bernardino, also on Saturday, Sept. 24.