ONTARIO, Calif. - The 12th-ranked University of California San Diego men’s cross country team had three all-conference honorees and finished third at the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championships, Saturday at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park. The 24th-ranked Triton women finished fourth.
Senior Tareq Alwafai led the Tritons with a third-place performance, moving up two spots in the final two kilometers, finishing the eight-kilometer course in 24:40.3. It is the highest individual finish for a UCSD male runner at the conference championships since James Nielsen won it in 1999. Senior Brendan Gee (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) came in eighth with a time of 24:51.1. Sophomore Aren Johnson (San Diego/Army & Navy Academy) was 13th at 25:07.11. Sophomore Samuel Blake and senior Scott Acton rounded out the scorers in 25th (25:35.0) and 31st (25:48.6), respectively. Chico State’s Will Reyes was the individual winner with a time of 24:18.1.
Alwafai, Gee and Johnson earned All-CCAA honors by virtue of placing in the top 15. It is the most all-conference honorees on the men's side since the 2005 team, who also had three. As a team, UCSD collected 69 points for third place, being narrowly edged out by No. 5 Cal Poly Pomona who amassed 67 points. No. 4 Chico State won the CCAA title for the 15th straight year with 20 points.
Sophomore Karina Carstens was the top finisher on the women’s side, completing the six-kilometer race in 22:21.3 for 15th. Junior Kristin Semancsin (San Diego/Valhalla HS) was right behind Carstens in 16th at 22:23.4. Juniors Ella Verhees (San Diego/Point Loma HS) and Skylar Thiel were next for the Tritons at 28th (22:45.9) and 30th (22:48.7), respectively. UCSD’s fifth scorer did not cross the finish line until 31 runners later as sophomore Christa Kloha (San Diego/Westview HS) came in 61st (23:48.0). Cal State San Bernardino’s Laura Aceves was the individual winner.
Carstens earned her second straight All-CCAA honor with a top-15 finish. The Tritons had 124 points and came in fourth, behind No. 9 Chico State (20 points), Cal Poly Pomona (76) and Stanislaus State (116). Chico State won the women's title for the ninth straight year.
UCSD will have two weeks of preparation before traveling to Billings, Mont., for the NCAA West Regionals on Saturday, Nov. 5, and trying to earn the right to go to the NCAA Championships.