Photo by: UC San Diego Athletics
Jake Selstad (left) and Burak Tufekci lead the Tritons into the Conference Cross-Over on Saturday.

One Step at a Time: Tritons Head to Midwest for Saturday's Conference Cross-Over


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LA JOLLA, Calif. — The University of California San Diego cross country teams get a nice change of scenery this weekend, as the Tritons compete in the Conference Cross-Over on Saturday morning in Romeoville, Ill.

The men’s 8K begins at 8 a.m. PT (10 a.m. CT), with the women’s 6K scheduled to follow at 8:45 a.m. PT. The course has a path 10-meters wide, looping around the southern side of host Lewis University’s campus.

UC San Diego enters the meet with the men ranked No. 8 in the West Region and the women landing in the regional rankings for the first time this season at No. 10.

Saturday will be the Tritons’ fourth meet this season, but just its first outside of Southern California.

“It’s exciting,” said UC San Diego junior Julian Romero. “We have a chance to show what we’ve got.”

The Lewis University course includes a hill, which Romero noted can present a challenge. However, the large loop helps out a bit as it allows runners to keep an eye on the competition ahead of them.

Romero believes starting fast will be key on Saturday.

“With 18 teams competing and about 100 runners, if you don’t get a good start, you’ll get swallowed and pushed back (in the pack),” said Romero. “Getting a good start will be important, and also just working through the small inclines throughout the race. You have to pay attention and make sure you don’t lose focus.

“You can see a lot of people during the race, so you have to make sure you know where you’re looking. You can’t just look at the person if front of you. You have to look at the person who’s already making a turn and believe you can catch up to them.”

An experienced runner, Romero acknowledged it’s not easy once you find yourself drifting toward the back of the pack during competition. Staying calm is crucial in those situations.  

“If you take it all in too much you’ll overwhelm yourself and think negative thoughts during the race," said Romero. "It can progressively get worse from there. Focus on the person in front of you and tell yourself, ‘I’m going to catch him,’ and just keep working your way up.

“One step at a time is really important.”

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country.  The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference.  UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent.  A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships.  In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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