Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Freshman Tanner Collins finished 13th overall with an 8k time of 26:51.8 on Saturday.
Tritons Gain Valuable Experience At Aztec Invitational on Saturday
Release: Saturday 09/17/2011 
SAN DIEGO - The UC San Diego cross country teams were back in action on Saturday, taking part in the 67th Annual San Diego State Aztec Invitational at historic Balboa Park. While head coach Nate Garcia elected to rest several of his top runners this weekend, the Tritons came through with strong results nonetheless.

UCSD finished fourth out of five teams in the men's 8k invitational, while the Triton women placed seventh in the eight-team 5k invite.

"Overall, I thought we ran very well today," Garcia said. "We had some of our folks get the opportunity to race up front for the first time in their careers and that will be important for us going forward. There was a lot of movement throughout the race, so some of our younger athletes really got to see what its going to be like as they advance through the program and get the opportunity to lead us down the road."

It was mostly newcomers leading the men on Saturday, as four out of the Tritons' five scorers are in their first year with the program. Freshman Tanner Collins was the leader of that group and finished 13th overall with a final time of 26:51.8. The Aliso Viejo native clocked in roughly 86 seconds behind UCLA's Shayne Collins, who won the race at 25:25.3.

Collins' time ranks 22nd all-time for UCSD on the Balboa Park course.

Warren Liem, another rookie, was UCSD's next-best finisher, wrapping up in 27:21.2 to grab 15th place. Liem finished two spots in front of senior Jeremy Riley, who posted a time of 27:29.1 and finished 17th. Dustin Harris, who has been a middle distance specialist on the Triton track and field team for the last three years, finished 23rd overall at 27:51.0, while freshman Daniel Hauptman rounded out the scoring with a 24th-place time of 27:54.1.

"We got a really strong race from Tanner today," Garcia continued. "He ran great throughout and got into a really good battle with a runner from Point Loma. Warren also had a good day and it good to see Jeremy come through with a strong performance after all of the injuries he's dealt with lately."

Senior Kathryn Turner was the top individual finisher for UCSD on the women's side, placing 27th overall with a 5k time of 19:47.9. Fellow upperclassmen Elena Inouye was the next Triton to cross the finish line, coming in at 19:57.7, which was good enough for 33rd place.

Heather Hisgen, Samantha Groff and Jackie Sikkema were UCSD's final three scorers on the day, finishing in 35th, 36th and 38th place, respectively. Hisgen posted a time of 20:04.3, while Groff clocked in at 20:06.6 and Sikkema finished in 20:19.4.

"We had some pretty good performances on the women's side," Garcia said. "We got a real good run from Kathryn. Her time ranks No. 16 all-time for us on that course, so it was good to see her step up like that."

Dr. Edmond Chang, a Making of the Modern World lecturer in UCSD's Eleanor Roosevelt College, was on hand on Saturday as part of the athletics department's honorary coach program. Dr. Chang moved through the course with the Triton coaching staff and took part in the team's post-race meeting.

The Tritons will now travel outside the state for the first time this season to compete in the Runners Soul/Erik Anderson Invitational on Saturday, September 24 in Spokane, Wash. The collegiate races are slated to begin at 10:45 a.m. at Plantes Ferry Regional Park.

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