Bears Surprise with Third-, Fifth-Place Finishes in Pac-10

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On Saturday, the long-awaited Pac-10 championships attracted a crowd of cross country enthusiasts in Seattle, Wash., who were as sleepless with anticipation the night before as they would be sleepless with astonishment the night after.

Nobody could have guessed the results of the races, just as nobody would have expected Tom Hanks to fly across the country and fall in love with Meg Ryan, but the Cal cross country team's weekend ended up just like any romantic comedy from the '90s would: airport scene, unfamiliar city skyline, and as always, a lot of running.

The Bear men and women surprised everyone with their third- and fifth-place finishes overall. In one of the most competitive conferences in the country, No. 22 Cal held its own against nationally ranked teams.

Once again, Michael Coe paced the men's team with a sixth place individual finish, keeping up with the lead runners for the majority of the race, but unable to pass a handful of Stanford and Oregon runners. The No. 1 Cardinal justified their national rank with a 1-2-3 finish by Elliot Heath, Jake Riley, and Chris Derrick; Stanford had also grabbed the top three spots at the Oct. 16 Pre-NCAA Invitational.

The No. 3 Ducks took the second-place finish with 56 points, while the Bears ended with 86 and UCLA took fourth with 101 points.

As for the women, Deborah Maier led the team with a third place individual finish, and that third was a first: Maier became the first Cal woman in 20 years to finish the Pac-10 race in the top three. Ahead of Maier was a first-place Jordan Hasay of Oregon and a second-place Kathy Kroeger of Stanford.

While the individual battle between Hasay, Kroeger, and Maier was close throughout the race, the overall team standings were even closer. The four teams that finished ahead of Cal were all within six points of each other.

The Cardinal took first with 62 points, Arizona second with 65, while Washington and the Ducks tied with 68. The Bears ended with 132 points, also ahead of UCLA, which took sixth place with 165.

With fairly strong finishes overall by both the men and women's teams, and with equally encouraging individual finishes by Coe and Maier, coach Tony Sandoval is optimistic about the team's future.

"We were very pleased with our performances today," Sandoval said. "Michael Coe and Deborah Maier were outstanding in a very deep field in both races. We're excited about our chances at Regionals to earn bids to the NCAA Championships for both teams."

Tags: CAL CROSS COUNTRY, TONY SANDOVAL, MICHAEL COE, DEBORAH MAIER


Samuel Farahmand covers cross country. Contact him at [email protected]



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