Sophomore Bronte Golick is very particular about her pre-race rituals.
“For some reason I need an extra sip of Gatorade the second before I start running,” she said. “I don’t know why.”
And although Golick may not know why this ritual works, it seemed to do especially well this weekend, as she followed up that last-second sip with a 10th place finish at the Pac-12 Preview Elite Invitational. Golick’s five-kilometer race time of 17 minutes and 59 seconds was best on the team.
Her teammates, sophomore Annie Mooney and redshirt sophomore Kelsey Smith, were seconds behind, finishing 12th and 15th, respectively. The women’s team finished in fourth place overall.
The Bruins found themselves missing a key element, however, as redshirt senior and top competitor Katja Goldring ““ who won last month’s Nevada Chase Invitational ““ was sick with the flu.
On the men’s side, sophomore Lane Werley had the performance of the day with a fifth-place finish in 24:41. Werley attributed his success to coach Forest Braden’s detailed game plan.
“The plan was to sit behind the front group because I knew I could probably hang with (them),” Werley said. “Once I got a second wind a little bit after five kilometers “¦ I felt good. I didn’t have the greatest race ever, but I felt good at that point and I knew I was going to be able to maintain. Things worked out.”
Reinforcements for Werley were close behind. Six of the nine Bruin runners finished the eight-kilometer race in the top 20, and the seventh runner, redshirt senior David McDonald, finished 24th. Overall, the men’s team ended the meet as runners-up behind Northern Arizona.
The athletes weren’t the only ones doing the hard running, though.
After a 10-year hiatus, the UCLA cross country program was the host of a home meet. Hosting the meet meant Braden had his own share of hustling and bustling to do in order to keep things smooth and seamless for all teams involved.
Braden said preparing for the meet demanded eight hours of preparation on Thursday, as well as frantic 11th-hour preparations after the golfers on the course finished their rounds Friday afternoon.
Nevertheless, he said, the rewards were tangible, and the hope is to make the meet an annual affair.
“It’s an amazing experience for our athletes and for the school to be showcased,” Braden said. “We have a lot of Southern California athletes, so we (had) a lot of coaches and teammates and fans that have been watching them since high school out to watch the meet.”
But coordinating the meet didn’t get in the way of Braden’s attention to his game plan ““ or his team’s performance.
“We would have given ourselves a better shot at beating Northern Arizona if we were a little more patient,” he said.
“They did show some guts. It maybe wasn’t the smartest race as a team, but it showed we have a great team and we do have a very solid group of guys who can go together.”