For UCLA cross country, the NCAA West Regional meet ended in a bittersweet combination of sad endings and promising developments.
The men’s team finished third, with several runners qualifying for next week’s nationals meet, but the women’s team didn’t earn any national bids on its way to a seventh place finish.
“We tried to run the way we ran all year and we came up short,” assistant coach Forest Braden said of the women’s finish.
Redshirt senior Katja Goldring, a top performer all season long who took 28th this weekend, took a more positive approach. She noted that the women’s team is much farther along than when she had first arrived.
“When I came here, everyone cared a lot but we just weren’t very good,” said Katja. “I was recruited to a team that was rebuilding and that’s part of why I joined.”
On the other side of the team, however, the men overcame the pressure of a big meet to focus on their own races.
“I’m really excited with how the guys ran well when it really mattered,” said Braden. “That’s what we’ve been lacking in prior years.”
Sophomore Lane Werley, who finished fifth overall, continued his streak of strong performances and earned praise from Braden, who described Werley as “so consistent, patient and coachable.”
With Werley already a top runner in his second year with the program, Braden said he is excited to see where the sophomore can go in the rest of his time at UCLA.
“Lane is such a competitor. It’s encouraging to see him race up there with the top competitors,” Braden said. “He brings it each day. He has such a quiet confidence.”
Werley, however, stayed humble, referring to his previous year as a freshman and the rough start he experienced.
“I was having a terrible season,” Werley said.
“It’s naturally a really tough transition. … Time has gotten me more used to everything, as well as communicating with the coach.”
While Goldring and Werley both thought back to their beginnings as Bruins this weekend, both are also looking forward to what the future has in store for the team.
“I’m sad to leave right as we’re getting good,” said Goldring. “I’m very jealous of all the younger girls.”