KAHUKU, Hawaii - More than 2,500 miles away from their domain, the UC San Diego cross country teams raced against their geographic competitors on Saturday at the 2012 NCAA Division II West Regional Championships, where the men placed 10th and the women finished 12th.
The meet, hosted by Hawaii Pacific at the Kahuku Golf Course, showcased the top-tier runners of each team in the West. However, neither race went as expected for the Tritons.
"Today was not our best day; not by a long shot," said head coach Nate Garcia. "We did not perform up to our abilities today, and the results bare that out. It's a disappointing way for us to end the season. There were a lot of really good things that happened throughout this year, and so, it's always disappointing when it doesn't come together at the end. Both squads raced really hard today, they gave it their all, but what they had today wasn't enough to advance on, so we will wrap our season up here."
Coming into their 10k race ranked fifth in the region, the Triton men were led by junior Kellen Levy, who crossed the finish line in 34:00.08 to place 39th overall.
Four UCSD freshmen filled out the rest of the Tritons' score sheet, including Tareq Alwafai, who finished 46th with a time of 34:09.01. Daniel Franz (34:16.10, 49th), Scott Acton (34:52.17, 68th) and Eddie Carrillo (35:11.91, 79th) all followed Alwafai to the finish.
Sophomore Tanner Collins (35:29.68) and junior Mario Flores (35:39.39) each played the role of displacer for the Tritons, placing 90th and 92nd, respectively.
The men turned in a team score of 266 (38-44-46-64-74).
Chico State, ranking No. 3 in the nation, won the race by taking three of the top five slots while the Wildcats placed all five of their scorers in the top 20 to earn a cumulative score of 38 (2-3-4-10-19) and spoil second-place Alaska Anchorage (No. 7 in DII) from earning a third straight regional title. UAA finished with a team score of 46 (1-9-11-12-13).
No. 10 Western Washington (82) and San Francisco State (130) finished third and fourth as a team, respectively, and will advance to the NCAA Championships along with Chico State, UAA and DII No. 25-ranked Humboldt State, which placed fifth.
UAA senior Micah Chelimo won the men's race in 31:57.35, beating junior Adrian Sherrod of the Wildcats by four seconds (32:01.39).
At the head of the UCSD women's pack in their 6k race was junior Chia Chang, who clocked in at 22:47.01 and placed 30th overall.
Chang was the lone Triton scorer for the women until freshman Marie Diaz finished in 68th with a time of 23:36.47.
Freshman Carolina Guzman came in as UCSD's No. 3 finisher in 84th and arrived at the end of the race in 24:08.91. Occupying the fourth and fifth slots on the Tritons' slate of scorers were senior Elena Inouye (24:29.53) in 95th and sophomore Michelle Le Roux (25:03.61) in 117th.
The displacers for UCSD were sophomore Dani Brabender (25:34.00, 135th) and junior Ximena Cruz (25:39.33, 138th) in the women's race.
UCSD's women, who came into the race ranked eighth in the West, accumulated a team score of 384 (29-66-82-93-114) and trailed fifth-place Seattle Pacific by 227 points (157).
As with the men, the Chico State women won their race to complete their first regional sweep since 2008 while also dashing UAA's hopes of a fourth consecutive regional title. The Wildcats won with their team score of 51 (3-6-11-14-17), which was five points less than the Seawolves' 56-point showing (1-4-12-16-23).
Advancing to the NCAA Championships with the Wildcats (No. 6 in DII) and Seawolves (No. 5) are the third-place Lumberjacks of HSU (No. 28), the fourth-place Warriors of Cal State Stanislaus (No. 27) and the fifth-place Falcons of Seattle Pacific (No. 25), which contributed team scores of 120, 154 and 157, respectively.
Junior Susan Tanui of UAA (21:18.50) was crowned the champion and beat second-place finisher, senior Tiffany Dinh of Cal Poly Pomona (21:25.91), by seven seconds.
Though the Tritons will have to wait another year to return to the Nationals, the 2012 NCAA Championships will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Missouri Southern State in Joplin, Mo. The men's 10k race will start at 8:30 a.m. PST (10:30 a.m. CST) and will be succeeded by the women's 6k race at 9:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. CST).