FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -
The UC San Diego cross country teams were in the Midwest on Saturday, competing in the 25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational held at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course.
Running in the Maroon II races, the Triton men finished fifth out of 28 teams in the Division II 8k competition, while the women placed 14th out of 25 teams in their 6k event.
"Overall, it was a really good experience for us today," head coach Nate Garcia said. "We ran against some good competition and now we have a good idea of where we stand. We have some work to do, but the pieces are definitely there."
In a field of 334 competitors, freshman Mario Flores put together a great performance to lead the UCSD men, finishing 34th overall with a time of 26:40.1. Matt Lenehan posted the Tritons' second-best finish, clocking in at 26:48.2, which was good enough for 42nd place.
Jesse Morrill, John Svet and Daniel Cooper were UCSD's final three scorers on the day, finishing in 50th, 64th and 85th place, respectively. Morrill posted a time of 26:57.8, Svet finished in 27:08.0 and Cooper came in at 27:25.5.
With three runners in the top 50, the Tritons tallied 214 points, finishing just four shy of fourth place Azusa Pacific's total. Ninth-ranked Augustana was first overall with 60 points, while UW-Parkside scored 158 to finish second and Concordia Nebraska was third with 171.
"Our goal was to finish in the top five on the men's side today and we accomplished that," Garcia said. "We got a real nice run from Mario and that really carried us."
Freshman Chia Chang was the top individual finisher on the women's side, placing 39th out of 287 total runners earlier in the day. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native finished with a time of 23:54.2 in the 6k race and has now been UCSD's top finisher in all three of her events this season.
Chang finished 21 spots in front of teammate Catherine Crisp, who came in 60th overall at 24:14.7. Kamilah Foley, Aaryn Kobayashi and Jackie Sikkema rounded out the scoring for the Tritons, finishing with respective times of 24:32.5, 24:36.9 and 24:56.2. Foley was the 85th-fastest runner, while Kobayashi finished in 92nd place and Sikkema was 116th.
UCSD scored 367 points, finishing 14 behind 13th place Minot State. Led by individual winner Morgan Place (21:49.2), No. 6 Minnesota Duluth won the event with 70 points, followed by the University of Mary in second with 98 and Azusa Pacific in third at 121.
Garcia's squad will now take the next week off to prepare for the 2010 Triton Classic on Saturday, October 9 on the UCSD campus. The men's 10k will begin at 9:00 a.m., followed by the women's 6k at 10:15. For registration information visit www.directathletics.com.