Photo by: UCSD
Chia Chang (far right) was awarded a medal after finishing in the top 10 of the women's 6k on Saturday in Spokane.
Triton Women Finish Fifth, Men Place Seventh at Erik Anderson Invitational
Release: Saturday 09/24/2011 

SPOKANE, Wash. - Facing their first true Division II test of the season, the UC San Diego cross country teams came through with a pair of excellent performances as both squads posted top-seven finishes in their respective races at the Runners Soul Erik Anderson Invitational on Saturday at Plantes Ferry Regional Park.

The Triton women finished fifth out of 26 teams in the collegiate 6k, while the men placed seventh in a 25-team collegiate 8k field. Saturday's race proved to be a good barometer for where UCSD stands within the region, while also giving the Tritons a glimpse of a course they hope to see twice more this season as Plantes Ferry Regional Park will serve as the site for both the NCAA West Regionals and the NCAA National Championships in November.

"We got a good measure of where we're at within the region today and we know we've got some work to do, but we're pleased with how we performed against this field on both sides," head coach Nate Garcia said. "We ran well on this course, but we definitely have to get better before we're back up here in six weeks."

Sophomore Chia Chang, who led the Triton women in their season opener and at the Asics/UC Irvine Invitational, was at the front of the pack for UCSD once again, finishing 10th overall with a final time of 21:58.3. With a mile pace of 5:56.3, Chang came in just over a minute behind the individual winner, Ruby Roberts of Washington State (20:53.8).

Chang finished four spots in front of teammate Michelle Le Roux, who clocked in at 22:12.6 to claim 14th place. Fellow rookie Dani Brabender was the next runner to finish for the Tritons, completing the course in 23:24.6, which was good enough for 55th place. Freshman Madison Tanner and junior Catherine Crisp rounded out the scoring, finishing in 59th and 63rd place, respectively. Tanner posted a final time of 23:27.7, while Crisp came in at 23:29.7.

UCSD tallied a total of 187 points on the day, finishing 45 points behind the fourth place finisher, the College of Idaho. Division I Washington State had five of the top seven finishers to run away with the team title with 21 points. Gonzaga finished second with 114 points, while Western Washington took third with 133.

The Triton women, who entered the day ranked 10th in the West Region, finished in front of regional opponents Seattle Pacific (eighth place), Alaska Fairbanks (12th) and Western Oregon (14th), which are all currently ranked higher in the West.

"The women really ran well today," Garcia continued. "To beat out all but one regional opponent when we were ranked fifth out of the five teams that were here was a great step for us. We got good efforts from Chia and Michelle and they really carried us."

Junior Matt Lenehan was the top individual finisher on the men's side for the Tritons, placing 29th overall with an 8k time of 25:31.1. Sophomore Kellen Levy had the team's next-best finish at 25:44.7, which was good enough for 37th place, while fellow sophomore Mario Flores placed 52nd at 25:55.4.

Seniors Anthony Heredia and John Svet were UCSD's final two scorers on the day, completing the course in 26:08.4 and 26:11.2, respectively. Heredia finished in 68th place, while Svet claimed 74th. 

UCSD finished with 224 points overall, which was 33 behind sixth place Northwest Nazarene. Colorado School of Mines, which currently ranks No.3 nationally in Division II, won the event with 27 points, while Gonzaga finished second with 96 and Lewis and Clark tallied 178 to finish third. Western Washington (181) and Western Oregon (184) rounded out the top five.

Western Washington, Western Oregon and Northwest Nazarene all entered the day ranked in front of UCSD in the West Region.

"We didn't have our best day on the guy's side and we thought we'd be able to finish a bit higher, but to place seventh in this field is still a great accomplishment," Garcia added. "The teams in the region that were supposed to beat us did, so we've got to keep improving going forward." 

The Tritons will now take next weekend off to prepare for their final home meet of the season, the annual UCSD Triton Classic, on Saturday, October 8. The women's 6k is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m., followed by the men's 10k at 9:50. For more information on the Triton Classic, click here.

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