Pac-12 championships prove challenging as cross country earns mediocre finishes
Redshirt junior Colin Burke was UCLA men’s cross country’s top finisher at the Pac-12 championships Friday. He came in 11th place and paced the Bruins with a 23:15.7. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)
Oct. 28, 2018 11:20 p.m.
UCLA cross country completed their first championship race of the season Friday.
Racing at the Pac-12 championships in Stanford, the No. 12-ranked men’s team finished sixth behind the other ranked Pac-12 schools including No. 29 Washington State. The women’s team, currently unranked, finished fifth behind all the ranked Pac-12 teams.
“There’s definitely some room to grow from the meet on the men’s side, and they’ll probably be the first to tell you that,” said assistant coach Devin Elizondo. “On the women’s side, they’re really excited; one of the goals was to improve upon last year’s finish, and they equaled their best finish (at the Pac-12s) in the last 10 years.”
The men’s team was led by redshirt junior Colin Burke, who placed 11th with a time of 23:15.7 in the 8K and missed out on all-conference honors by one second.
Rounding the remaining scorers for the team were junior Garrett Reynolds, redshirt senior and captain Cole Smith, redshirt sophomore Carter Blunt and freshman Artin Allahverdian.
“It feels amazing (to score for the team as a freshman), I didn’t really expect that it was going to happen,” Allahverdian said. “Even if I made top seven that would have been amazing, let alone being a scorer; I’m very surprised and proud of what happened.”
Elizondo said the men’s team dealt with some injuries during the championship but is focused on rebounding for the NCAA west regionals meet.
“(Reynolds) is still recovering from Wisconsin Pre-Nationals, he was 14th at Pac-12s a year ago and (was) 25th (this year), so I know he’s not pleased but we’ll take that effort right now,” Elizondo said. “We’re really going to define what success will look like on the day of (regionals), and all we can do is focus on what we have control over and put our best effort forward.”
The women’s team was led by sophomore Erika Adler, who placed 13th with a time of 20:09.6 in the 6K and missed out on all-conference honors by 10 seconds. Sophomore Christina Rice, juniors Claire Markey and Cassandra Durgy, and senior Taylor Taite rounded out the scorers for the women’s
“I just approached this race with a mentality of ‘Well, it’s my last Pac-12s, and potentially my last cross country race of college,’ so I just kind of ran off of that,” Taite said. “I was really happy about it, that was my highest placement on the team in my four years of running here.”
Elizondo praised both Taite and Allahverdian, saying that the last scoring position can be as important as your top runner.
“The guys will be fired up for (Allahverdian), they’ve really taken to that guy and he ran a heck of a race,” Elizondo said. “Taite has been in our top seven all year, and she’s just been a staple in that lineup; she just adds a lot of maturity, she has a coach for a father and she just sees the sport really well.”
The Bruins will have a two-week break until they next compete at the NCAA west regionals in Sacramento on Nov. 9.