Author: Spencer Donaldson
The Occidental cross country teams will each send their top seven runners to compete at the Roy Griak Invite this weekend, where they will look to improve their resumés to remain in consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA National Championships in November.
When the National Committee meets to choose the at-large bids for the Championship, the Tiger cross country teams want to garner their consideration by defeating non-regional opponents
“The meet in Minnesota is our opportunity to go and prove our worth to the rest of the nation,” head coach Rob Bartlett said.
The Tigers ran hills and trained at a faster pace last week to prepare for the event. Their quads may have been aching, but their minds were set on the task at hand.
“We’re going hard in Minnesota,” captain Colin Smith (junior) said. “We’re going to have a different mentality.”
Both teams geared up for the Roy Griak Invite with races at UC Irvine and UC Riverside. The men’s team finished fourth and 11th, respectively, and the women’s team finished eighth and 17th.
The team results were not of primary importance to Bartlett, who reinforced that the main purpose of the two races was to warm up the teams and familiarize the first-years with collegiate cross country.
For the men, Riverside Community College transfer John Guzman Aguilar (junior) finished first among Occidental’s runners and eighth overall with a time of 26:05.2 minutes in the 8k in his Tiger debut at the UC Irvine Invite.
Smith used his experience to set an early pace that paid off for the large class of first-years. Despite the mile and a half of pace work, Smith managed to finish in 22nd place with a time of 27:16.1 minutes.
The women’s side showed signs of promise as well in its first 5k of the year at UC Irvine.
“Our first was more like a workout type of race,” Jenna Wong (senior) said. “But everyone ran really well and still had a lot left in the tank.”
First-year Mel Devoney led the women with a 12th-place mark of 19:07.5 minutes while Wong finished in 18th with a time of 19:16.9 minutes.
At Riverside, both teams rested their top runners in preparation for the Roy Griak invite. Those who did race showed improvement.
First-year Charles de Anda, who was unable to finish at Irvine, came in first for the Tiger men and 35th overall with a time of 27:05.0 minutes. Sophomore Tommy Warfel and Ryan Kammerman (senior) were the next highest finishers with times of 27:21.9 minutes 28:01.7 minutes.
“You want to take steps forward, so we were certainly a little more assertive, aggressive,” Bartlett said. “There was a mindset that we wanted to compete a little harder than we had a week before.”
Both teams travel to St. Paul, Minn. for the Roy Griak Invite this Saturday at 9 a.m.
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