USC takes sixth place with strong finish
The USC womenâs cross-country team went to Saturdayâs UC Irvine Invitational looking for a great start, and instead got a great finish.
Despite a sluggish beginning, the Women of Troy took sixth overall at the UC Irvine 5K meet thanks to a solid last half of the race.
âAt the beginning of the season everyone makes mistakes,â coach Tom Walsh said. âAnd our mistake was being too tentative at [the start of the race]. We got out really slow, but I donât think any other team finished as strong as we did. Our girls had more left than anybody.â
Senior Christine Cortez led the charge for USC, which ran without three of its top runners, and placed 22nd overall in a field of 122. Junior Leah Gaeta was next for the Women of Troy at 33rd overall, followed by senior Dina Kitayama at 38th.
Senior Zara Lukens and redshirt sophomore Jessica Lundin crossed the line 43rd and 45th, respectively. Freshman Jaclyn Walles and sophomore Kelly Owen went in back-to-back at 57th and 58th.
âBasically, everyone ran pretty close to what I thought theyâd run,â Walsh said. âIt was very consistent with how theyâve been practicing. Iâd call it a pretty good effort.â
USC finished behind Cal Poly San Luis Opisbo, Azusa Pacific, Cal State San Marcos, UC Irvine and Pepperdine. USCâs squad, however, was missing senior Zsofia Erdelyi, redshirt sophomore Shelby Buckley and sophomore Kathleen Moloney, all expected to be top contributors once the season heats up. Despite the absences, Walsh still liked what he saw Saturday.
âSome girls need a few races to build into the season,â he said. âIt was a good first race for them. Theyâre all just going to keep getting better and better.â
When asked for the most important thing he noticed at UC Irvine, Walsh returned to the teamâs less-than-stellar start and strong finish, noting that things might have been different had the race been a longer distance.
âI think weâre ready for the 6K races,â Walsh said. âIâm actually a little disappointed that this wasnât a 6K because I think our girls were as prepared to go a little longer as anyone else out there. But weâre going to have to work on the start because that didnât help us at all.â
USC will have two weeks to improve its race tactics before a marquee meet at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., on Sept. 25. The Women of Troy expect to run at full strength at the race Walsh calls âone of the most important of the season.â