IRVINE, Calif. -
Competing against a large field for the first time this season, the UC San Diego cross country teams more than held their own on Saturday, posting a pair of top-six finishes at the annual Asics/UC Irvine Invitational on the UCI campus.
The Triton women, who were coming off a victory over Point Loma, Cal State L.A. and Cerritos College last week, finished sixth overall in the 16-team 5k ‘A' run, while the men, who also recorded a win to open the season, finished second out of 13 squads in the their 8k ‘A' competition.
The women finished in front of several Division I schools, including USC, Pepperdine, UCI, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield, as well as conference foes Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Dominguez Hills. The men also beat out the likes of UC Irvine, Pepperdine and Northridge.
"We're very pleased with what we were able to accomplish out here today," head coach Nate Garcia said. "We definitely ran at our potential or very close to it and we beat some really good teams on both sides."
After breaking the tape in UCSD's season opener a week ago, sophomore Chia Chang was the Tritons' top individual finisher again on Saturday, placing 14th overall with a final time of 18:12.1. She shaved 25 seconds off of her time on the same course last season with the performance.
Chang finished nine spots in front of teammate Michelle Le Roux, who was the first of three straight freshmen to score for the Tritons with a time of 18:25.5. Dani Brabender and Madison Tanner finished in 39th and 49th places with respective times of 18:53.0 and 19:01.9, while junior Catherine Crisp rounded out the scoring for UCSD in 58th place at 19:08.5.
"For our freshmen, this was their first time running in a large field meet and I thought they performed very well," Garcia continued. "They showed a lot of maturity out there and that will serve them very well going forward."
UCSD tallied a total of 177 points to finish 27 behind fifth place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Cal Poly won the event with 38 points, while Azusa Pacific was second with 59, Long Beach State was third with 106 and Cal State San Marcos tallied 118 to finish fourth.
Senior Alex Corliss had a tremendous performance to lead the Tritons on the men's side, bouncing back from a tough race last week to finish ninth overall at 25:31.9. His effort was a full 1:20 better than his time at the UCI Invitational in 2010.
Sophomore Mario Flores posted the next-fastest time for UCSD, clocking in at 25:40.7 to finish 11th overall. He came in two spots in front of teammate Kellen Levy, who took 13th place at 25:43.5, while senior John Svet and junior Matt Lenehan finished in 16th and 18th places with respective times of 25:44.6 and 25:45.9.
"We got some great pack running from our guys again today," Garcia added. "They really made a commitment to pushing the pack forward early on and they were able to carry it through the whole race. If we had one guy finish one spot higher, we would have won it."
UCSD totaled 67 points on the day, finishing just one point behind first place Cal State San Marcos. The Cougars had two of the top four finishers and placed four in the top 20 overall, but the Tritons' sixth and seventh finishers, Ryan Lok (25:59.0, 26th) and Ben Rich (25:59.1, 27th), finished in front of CSUSM's final scorer.
The Tritons will be back in action next weekend when they compete in the 67th Annual San Diego State Invitational on Saturday, September 17. The meet gets underway at 8:00 a.m. at Balboa Park.