Cal Women Claim Highest Pac-10 Finish Since 1988

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On Friday, the Cal women's cross country team ran its way into territory uncharted in 21 years: a top-five finish at the Pac-10 championships.

With 128 points, the Bears' fifth-place showing out of 10 schools at Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach, Calif., was Cal's highest overall placement at the meet since taking third in 1988.

"We have four ranked teams in our conference ... That's just how competitive it is," senior Alison Greggor said. "And to be able to run well and finish in the top half like we did is huge."

Sophomore Deborah Maier headlined Cal's landmark finish with a stellar individual performance, as she took sixth overall out of the 87-person field by covering the 6,000-meter course in 20:00.10.

The Cameron Park, Calif., native has crossed the finish line first for the Bears in three consecutive meets, and her performance on Friday was Cal's best individual finish at the Pac-10 championships since Elissa Riedy took sixth in 1997.

"We're all really proud of (Maier), and she deserves to run like this," Greggor said. "Her hard work is reflecting in how she's running, and I really think it's a sign of things to come."

The Bears' leader was joined in the top 35 by freshman Ellie Keene, who finished 20th, sophomore Keena Kohl (31st) and Greggor (34th).

The Cal men had to overcome bouts with injury and illness on the way to taking seventh place overall out of eight squads.

The Bears competed without two of their consistent scoring runners, as sophomore Maxime Chevee stayed home with a foot injury and junior transfer Chris Vizcaino eventually had to drop out of the race due to sickness.

In addition, Cal's two top freshmen-Matt Petersen and Collin Jarvis -were racing ill.

"It was really, really difficult," coach Tony Sandoval said. "If you're not feeling well, it's awful hard to run, especially that distance."

Nevertheless, junior Steve Sodaro ran what he called "the race of my life," taking 18th place out of 67 runners by covering the 8,000-meter course in 23:41.41.

Sodaro also displayed some veteran leadership among the young squad before the start of the meet.

"I knew with this race, that (the field) would go out pretty hard, so I let (our runners) know not to worry," he said. "The freshmen moved up from the back, which was good, and our guys who got out hard came back in the end."

Indeed, aside from Sodaro and junior Kari Karlsson, who placed 27th, the rest of Cal's scoring contingent was made up of all newcomers, as Renaud Poizat (48th), Cody Schmidt (51st) and Jarvis (55th) rounded out the Bears' top five on the men's side.

"Cody really responded really well as a freshman and Renaud has been the surprise of the year," Sandoval said. "Collin ended up finishing pretty strong despite how crappy he was feeling."

The Bears will get a week off to rest up before competing at the NCAA Regionals in Springfield, Ore., on Nov. 14, for a chance to earn a trip to the NCAA cross country championships.


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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