RIVERSIDE, Calif. -
First was the word that was present throughout the inaugural running of the Lancer Invitational on Saturday as the UC San Diego cross country teams took the top slots in their respective races at the Cal Baptist-hosted event held in Rancho Jurupa Regional Park.
"It was a great race and a good opportunity for us to see some of the conference opponents on the women's side and to get a heads-up race with Cal Baptist on the men's side," said UCSD head coach Nate Garcia. "I'm real pleased with the effort that both groups put in."
Among 61 competitors, the Triton women turned in a thriller of a race, earning a narrow one-point (35-36) victory over Cal Baptist to enter the record books as the maiden meet's 5k-event team champion.
Junior Chia Chang spearheaded the Tritons' team crown with her 18:07 finishing time to place as the event's runner-up, marking the ninth straight race in which she has competed and finished as UCSD's No. 1 runner.
"On the women's side, again, a real solid run by Chia," Garcia said. "It was a good opportunity for her to see the runners from Cal State L.A. and she handled herself well against them. I'm real pleased with the progress that she's making this season."
Finishing just five seconds apart in fifth and sixth, respectively, were senior Elena Inouye (18:49) and sophomore Michelle Le Roux (18:54).
"Elena ran a real strong race to finish in the top five for us, and the way that her and Michelle worked together really made a big difference for the team on the day," Garcia said.
Junior Ximena Cruz stayed close behind Le Roux, crossing the finish line in 18:58 to place eighth overall.
UCSD's team triumph was no easy feat and was clinched on sophomore Dani Brabender's remarkable finale in which she passed the Lancers' sixth (sophomore Natalie Ball) and seventh (sophomore Bethany Bilton) finishers in the final stretch to finish 14th, clocking in at 19:19. Brabender beat Ball (19:20, 15th) by only a second and outran Bilton (19:24, 16th) by four.
"Obviously, winning by one point, every single person is going to matter quite a bit," Garcia said. "Dani had a real good finish which pushed us over the top to help us win that race."
Though the Lancers finished 1-4-9-10-12, Brabender's finish in front of Ball and Bilton dropped two points from the Tritons' score (2-5-6-8-14). CBU senior Jennifer Mallen won the race, earning a time of 17:56.
Cal State San Bernardino (80), Cal State L.A. (85) and Providence Christian (155) placed third through fifth, respectively, in the team scores for the women's race.
The men's route to a first-place team finish came a little easier in their 8k race. In the field of 28, the Tritons won their dual meet with the Lancers in landslide fashion, 20-41.
Freshman Scott Acton achieved a finishing time of 25:33 to take third overall. He was the first of five consecutive Tritons to cross the finish line in a 13-second stretch.
Sophomore Tanner Collins (25:35) claimed fourth place for the Tritons before freshman Eddie Carrillo (25:44, fifth), junior Mario Flores (25:45, sixth) and freshman Tareq Alwafai (25:46, seventh) formed the tightest trio within the UCSD score set.
"We were pleased with the group effort," Garcia said. "There was a good youth presence with three freshmen in the top five and solid experience and leadership with Mario and Tanner. Our group ran confidently and controlled the pack from the start."
Breaking the tape in the men's race was unattached runner Bryton Reim, who clocked in at 24:54.
UCSD returns home to host the Triton Classic Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 6. The starting guns for the men's 8k and women's 6k races will be fired at 9 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., respectively.
2012 CCAA Championships
UCSD will be hosting the 2012 CCAA Championships on Saturday, Oct. 20. The men's 8k race will begin at 9 a.m. and will be followed by the women's 6k race at 10 a.m. On the men's side, the Tritons will face Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State East Bay, Cal State Monterey Bay, Cal State Stanislaus, Chico State, Humboldt State and San Francisco State. The women will compete against all of the aforementioned teams in addition to Cal State L.A., Cal State San Bernardino and Sonoma State. Please stay tuned for updates regarding the meet in the upcoming weeks.
-- UCSDtritons.com --