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Cross country reaches season end following performance at NCAA West Regional

Redshirt sophomore Peter Herold runs in front of a pack including two of his UCLA cross country teammates. Herold’s performance earned him All-Region honors, though it was not enough for the Bruins to qualify someone for the NCAA tournament. (Courtesy of Chuck Aragon)

By Eden Yu

Nov. 15, 2021 11:41 a.m.

The Bruins’ season came to an early end.

UCLA cross country traveled north to Sacramento to compete in the NCAA West Regional on Friday morning. The men’s team finished 12th overall in a pool of 29 teams while the women’s team finished 15th out of 35 teams.

In the men’s 10,000-meter race, redshirt sophomore Peter Herold placed first among the Bruin competitors, clocking in at 30:18.6 to finish 24th overall and earn him All-Region honors. However, it was not enough to qualify him individually for the NCAA Championships.

“We started the race off really strong,” Herold said. “We had a strong pack up at the top of the group, but toward the end of the race, people kind of fell off a little bit. I think we finished a little bit lower than we would have liked to.”

Captain and redshirt junior Darius Riley – the only Bruin who had prior experience in the race after competing in the 2019 regional – finished second for the Bruin men, placing 59th overall with a time of 31:09.0. Sophomore Ronan McMahon-Staggs, freshman Ewan Macfarlane and junior Munir Kabbara rounded out the fastest UCLA runners, finishing in 66th, 118th and 133rd, respectively.

Herold said the men’s team started the season with hopes of moving onto nationals but fell short of that goal after placing near the middle of the pack.

“I think this (race) gives us a lot of fuel for the fire now,” Herold said. “We fell short of what we really wanted to do, so this will motivate us to do better for the upcoming track season.”

In the women’s 6,000-meter race, junior Emma Tavella crossed the finish line first for the Bruin women in 64th place with a time of 21:09.6, while senior Gwyn George crossed shortly after in 87th place with a time of 21:36.5. Freshman Audrey Allen clocked in exactly three seconds later in 90th place.

Rounding out the top-five finishers for UCLA were senior Alyssa Bautista and sophomore Carlie Dorostkar, who finished within two seconds of each other in 104th and 105th place, respectively. From the Bruins’ first to fifth finisher, the difference was 40 seconds.

“I think we’ve had … the closest in-pace group of girls that we’ve had in a while, so that was super awesome to be able to train together,” Tavella said. “Our whole goal was to all be close together for a close spread but then also be more forward than we’ve been in the past.”

Tavella said she thinks the women’s team did well considering its circumstances. A week before the regional race, the junior said her team caught the flu but still managed to come together as a team and perform.

“We all got pretty sick this last week,” Tavella said. “We all got the flu, so we were a little bit nervous going into it, but we rallied together, and we had a great team showing.”

Regarding the team’s performance this season, assistant coach Devin Elizondo credited the seniors for their resilience, especially through the pandemic.

“Watching (the seniors) lead and grow in this program has been huge for me,” Elizondo said. “Those are the folks that we brought in four years ago, and (we) put a lot on their shoulders. They got us through the pandemic and they got us through this year competing in the fall. … The winter and the spring hold a lot of promise for us.”

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Eden Yu | Sports contributor
Yu is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the cross country and track & field beats.
Yu is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the cross country and track & field beats.
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