Cross Country: Young Bears Prepared for Pac-10 Championships in Pasadena





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Practice does not always make perfect, but hopefully it will make high placings.

After a month-long break from competition, the Cal men's and women's cross country teams return to action, heading down to Pasadena for the Pac-10 Championships tomorrow.

The men will travel with their top nine-seniors John Burke, Martin Conrad and Craig Lee, juniors John Balzer and Carlos Carballo, and freshmen Abadir Barre, Kevin Davis, Giliat Ghebray, and Eric Roberts.

"We're battling for fourth or fifth," Carballo said. "Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State basically have the top three. I think we could match up well against Washington and UCLA to compete for the next spot."

The women's lineup features senior Lache Bailey, sophomores Lindsey Maclise, Abby Parker, and Katie White, and freshmen Bridget Duffy, Sophia Marquez, and Maja Ruznic.

With new regulations, teams are allowed to enter as many as 10 runners, but the Cal women are confident with their top seven.

"Many teams like to use Pac-10 to determine who will fill their sixth or seventh spots," White said.

With seven of the Bears' top 16 runners being freshmen, coach Tony Sandoval spent the past four weeks getting the young runners accustomed to new running experiences.

"The Pac-10 is one of strongest regions in the nation," White said. "Having been in a race of this speed and with the caliber of athletes last year, you know what to expect."

The teams have undergone race simulations and visualization sessions so the newcomers will know what to expect at the competition.

"The training has definitely helped the team improve our times," Duffy said.

Though the Pac-10 championships are next on the Cal agenda, the team has primarily been training for NCAA Pacific Regionals at Stanford in two weeks.

The past four weeks of practice and workouts have been structured with courses similar to those in Cardinal territory.

The cycle included a volume week in which the teams covered a lot of mileage, a strength week with emphasis on stamina and hills, and a transition week focusing on quick turnovers and longer repetitions. The training culminated with a speed week comprising mainly of race simulations.

"We had one hard day and two medium workouts a week," Duffy said. "That's a lot more than what we would've gotten in if we had competitions."

Many of the runners had more than just hills and speed to battle in the past couple of weeks.

"A few of the girls are sick," redshirt Ruznic said.

Along with Ruznic, Bailey and Maclise are also struggling with colds and flus, but that will not stop the girls from performing their best.

"I don't think it will affect their performance," said Parker. "Anything they are physically lacking they will make up for it mentally."

The women's 6K race starts at 9:30 a.m. and the men's 8K follows at 10:30 a.m.

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