Facing some of the nation’s toughest squads in what proved to be a grueling test, the USC women’s cross-country team finished 12th at this weekend’s Pac-12 championships.
The 6-kilometer race circling Wigwam Golf Course in Litchfield, Ariz., pitted the Women of Troy against UCLA, Stanford, Oregon, California and the rest of the conference.
“The Pac-12 is the toughest cross country conference in the country,” USC coach Tom Walsh said. “We lacked the big race experience that you need to do well in a meet like this. But I am confident that we will learn from this experience and get better in the future.”
Junior Shelby Buckley finished first for the Women of Troy in 22:01 for 78th place overall. Freshman Erica Capellino and redshirt freshman Katie DeYoung followed, finishing in 22:41 and 22:43, taking home 92nd and 93rd, respectively.
Freshman Kira Soderstrom placed 97th with a time of 22:54 and fellow freshman Shannon Byrne finished in 23:18 at 105th place. Freshman Erin Robinson ran a 24:07 and finished in 109th. Sophomore Jaclyn Walles did not finish. the race.
The team’s overall average time was 22:44, 1:30 slower than that of Pac-12 champion Colorado.
“The Pac-12 race didn’t go as well as we wanted it to,” Walsh said. “It was a very difficult challenge for our five freshmen walk on athletes to mix it up with several NCAA and Footlocker All-Americans.”
The next step will be the regional championships in Palo Alto on Nov. 12 in the path to the NCAA national championships.
Walsh said last Thursday that he would evaluate the team after the Pac-12 championships.
Walsh has the option of sending a few individuals or a team of runners to regional championships, based on whom he believes has a better chance at qualifying for the national championships.
Though this season featured one of the youngest teams in USC’s competitive history, this year’s cross-country team has done promisingly well, according to Walsh.
With one or two more seasons of collegiate experience, the coaching staff feels this unit has much room to grow.
“I am happy with the progress that this team made throughout the season,” Walsh said. “Most of the girls on the team improved by 30-40 seconds from a year ago, and that is very impressive. I hope that the improvement continues as we move forward to track season in the spring, and into cross country next year.”
Colorado captured the first-place title, while Washington came in second and Stanford finished third.