Cal Beats the Heat and Almost the Whole Field as Men Finish Second, Women Fourth

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STANFORD-Sweating, panting and hyperventilating, one would have never guessed that the Cal cross country team finished in the top five in both the men's and women's events at Saturday's Stanford Invitational.

On a day that could best be described as sweltering, teams from all over the nation collected on the Stanford golf course to run one of the most highly anticipated meets of the young season.

With out-of-region foes such as Baylor, Arkansas and Ohio State coming west, the Bears knew that this year's field would present a greater challenge than the 2007 event, which saw the men finish in second and the women in eighth.

But despite the stiff competition, coupled with virulently hot conditions that led to injuries for both squads, the Cal men finished second while the Bears' women mustered a fourth-place showing.

The men's performance was especially impressive because of the loss of top junior Michael Coe midway through the race due to injury.

"The fact that we beat a team like Arkansas today showed that we have a lot of potential," coach Tony Sandoval said. "We really did a great job to finish second in spite of Coe dropping out."

The top-10 finishes of seniors Yosef Ghebray and Mark Matusak helped pace the Bears, but Sandoval emphasized the importance of the strong performances of "the Millers"-Matt Hansdavid Miller and Matt Kelley Miller-in achieving the overall second-place finish.

"Ghebray and Matusak ran very well, but Michael [Coe] going down really put a premium on how Miller and Miller ran." Sandoval said.

Though Sandoval and the rest of the squad sounded satisfied with their finish, leading runner Ghebray knows that this is merely the beginning of a long trek toward nationals in November.

"We see this as a stepping stone, we're not trying to put too much emphasis on the earlier meets," Ghebray said. "It is nice to do well and see where we are, but our goals and aspirations are at the end of the season."

Ghebray said he was pleased with his performance, but emphasized the toll that the heat took on him.

"I really felt dehydrated," he said. "When it is this hot you just need to calm down and run your race. It is really hot out here."

While the heat was a major issue for the men, it was even worse for the women, who had to run their race at about twenty minutes before noon.

With two of their top runners lost for the season due to stress fractures, the women's team suffered another setback with the loss of potential top candidate Allison Greggor to injury during the race.

Though the Bears brought a crop of inexperienced runners, strong performances from true freshman Keena Kohl and redshirt junior Gabriela Rios-Sotelo prompted Cal to the fourth-place finish.

"We thought Allison was going to be our top runner, but we got a good run from Keena," Sandoval said.

The Bears were the second overall squad at the Invitational, finishing behind host Stanford, which easily swept the top spot in both the men's and women's events.

Cal's next meet is in three weeks, where it will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for Pre-Nationals.


Contact Gabriel Baumgaertner at [email protected]

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