The UCI Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams kicked off their season as host of the Adidas/UCI Invitational on Sept. 8th, 2012. The men finished 4th as a team with 99 points. Seniors Rex Nelson and Sam Hyams led the Anteaters, placing 2nd and 5th respectively, in a field of 229 runners. Nelson ran the 8,000-meter course with a time of 24:57.5, while Hyams clocked in at 25:19.7.
“I was happy to have finished fifth, it’s a big jump from how I have placed in past years. My fitness is much stronger than what it was last year, and it feels great to be able to hit a solid time this early in the season,” Hyams said of his fifth place finish.
Rounding out UCI’s top seven were Riley Martin in 31st place, Stevan Melena in 33rd, Alex Tebbe in 50th, Amir Shirif in 61st and Matt Kneev in 68th.
John Gilbertson of The Master’s College took first place in the race, with a time of 24:14.4, while the winning team was Cal State San Marcos with 56 points.
“It is the strongest I have seen it during my time here. We have two strong front-runners and three to four guys close behind them,” commented Hyams on UCI’s finish.
When asked what the team could improve upon, Hyams said, “As a team we need to focus on running as a pack in order to score more points. The top five men score for the team, thus the five front men need to all run well and close to each other in order to score the most points.”
Perhaps the men’s team could take a page from the women’s team, where the top four Anteaters finished within five spots of each other.
Senior Chloe Fata was the lead runner, finishing 52nd in a field of 168 runners, with a time of 19:11.6 on the 5,000 meter course.
Marthie Ponty finished 54th at 19:13.3, Chelsea Schneider finished 55th at 19:14.3 and Kaycee Holcomb finished 59th at 19:21.2.
Carlotta Pham finished 64th, followed by Makenna McGrann at 82nd and Jewelz Andrews at 87th, completing the top seven UCI racers.
The Lady Anteaters finished 10th overall as a team, with 252 points.
Arkansas runner Semehar Tesfaye finished the race first, with a time of 17:21.11, also taking first as a team, claiming the top six individual spots.
The next race for the cross country team is this Saturday, September 29 at both the Stanford Invitational and the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational.
“It is relatively early in the season and most of the guys have improved their fitness levels drastically since the race. From where the team stands now, we should be able to place very well at our next race,” said Hyams about the preparation that has gone into the next race and the upcoming season
Anteaters hope that Hyams is right, as they’ll be cheering on the cross country teams from Irvine.