Both men’s and women’s cross country teams miss NCAA title for 2nd straight year
Senior Garrett Reynolds was one of two Bruins for UCLA men’s cross country who raced individually at the NCAA championship in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Saturday. Reynolds placed 84th overall with a time of 31:50.6 in the 10K. (Courtesy of Don Liebig/UCLA Athletics)
Nov. 27, 2019 1:30 a.m.
The Bruins’ hopes at a men’s championship died in the final week of the regular season, and only one woman in blue and gold qualified for nationals.
But assistant coach Devin Elizondo said there were still some positive takeaways.
“Not everything went as we hoped,” Elizondo said. “But there were some amazing bright spots for the program.”
UCLA cross country saw an All-American finish from junior Christina Rice, and two top-125 placements from senior Garrett Reynolds and redshirt senior Colin Burke at the NCAA championship Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. However, it was the second consecutive year that neither the men’s or women’s squad qualified for the championship as a team.
The last time there were no Bruin team qualifiers in consecutive years was in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The UCLA men held a top-10 ranking for two weeks this season and had its sights set on the possibility of an automatic bid to the NCAA championship, but a late-season injury to redshirt senior Robert Brandt derailed the team’s qualifying chances.
Brandt was the Bruins’ top runner and was a top-10 finisher in every race he participated in this season.
While Elizondo said he was concerned with the gap between the front and back runners for the Bruins, new faces were able to tighten the pack in the latter half of the season. Elizondo said the performances of redshirt junior Andy Ehrenberg, redshirt freshman Darius Riley and junior DJ Lawson at the Pac-12 championship Nov. 1 stood out most.
“On the men’s side, we got a lot from some of our role players,” Elizondo said. “We came in believing our depth was one of our greatest strengths. We went further down the lineup than we thought we were going to have to. Those young guys stepped up – (Ehrenberg, Riley and Lawson).”
UCLA will lose its top three men’s runners – in addition to three other seniors – to graduation. Reynolds – who finished 84th at nationals – said the future of the men’s team will be in good hands if they buy into the legacy they’ve left behind.
“I think it’s definitely a big transition point for the team going into the next school year,” Reynolds said. “If the freshmen and the young guys that are here right now, as well as the incoming guys, if they can carry out, act, train, perform and have the same mentality, they’ll be in a good place.”
Rice said she saw a lot of growth within herself over the course of the season, rising into scoring positions and garnering an All-American title in the first championship race of her collegiate career.
As for the women’s team as a whole, Rice said it took a step back from last year and need to get back on the right track.
“I think we just need to learn how to work together as a group and get everyone on the same page,” Rice said. “I think that we definitely had a lot more focus last year. I think this year was just a learning and growing year.”
Many of the cross country athletes will suit up again in the spring once the track and field season begins. Reynolds said his training program will have to shift in his 13-week offseason to prepare for the shorter distances of the indoor track season.
“This season, the training was fantastic,” Reynolds said. “(Elizondo, assistant coach Austin O’Neil and I) will come up with a plan to make a clean transition from how we trained in cross country and move that toward 5K and 10K training in the spring.”