“Overall, we’re okay with how we did,” head coach Nate Garcia said. “We came in ranked third on the men’s side and fifth on the women’s side and we defended our rankings. But obviously, if you’re not winning the race you’re always hungry to do a little bit better. So I feel there are some areas we can work on in the next couple weeks.”
Senior Jesse Morrill led the way on the men’s side, with his time of 25:11 over the 8k course landing him in 11th place overall. Morrill made his first All-CCAA team by finishing in the top 15. Kellen Levy was next for the Tritons, taking home CCAA Freshman of the Year honors as the first true freshman finisher. Levy finished in 25:38 to place 18th overall. Freshman Mario Flores, junior Patrick French and sophomore Matt Lenehan rounded out the scoring for the Tritons, with 21st, 22nd and 26th place finishes, respectively.
Chico State, one of the top Division II schools for distance running, won its ninth consecutive men’s title by taking the first four spots and six of the top seven. Brent Handa edged out teammate Isaac Chavez to take first with a time of 24:41.
UCSD finished with 87 points, trailing only Pomona’s 57 points and Chico’s near-perfect 16 points.
On the women’s side, sophomore Jackie Sikkema was the Tritons’ top overall finisher, completing the 6k course in 23:14 to take 25th place. Freshman Chia Chang finished three spots back with a time of 23:19. Sophomore Heather Hisgen, freshman Kamilah Foley and sophomore Catherine Crisp took 32nd, 33rd and 34th to complete the Triton scorers.
“We had a couple gals that were a little under the weather, and I feel like that cost us a little,” Garcia said. “As a whole, we feel that on a good day of racing we are in contention for a top 3 position in the conference. To finish in the top 5 being a little off is something that we’re pleased with, but like I said we’re hungry to go to the next level.”
Chico State also took the women’s title, making this the third consecutive year the Wildcats have garnered both conference championships. Chico’s Kara Lubieniecki was the overall winner with a time of 21:30, and the Wildcats took 9 of the top 10 spots, including their non-scoring runners.
The Tritons finished with 145 points, putting them behind Chico, Pomona, Cal State Stanislaus and just eight back of Cal State L.A.
The Tritons will return to action in two weeks for the NCAA Division II West Regionals, to be held on Nov. 20 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash.
“On the men’s side, our goal throughout the season has been a top five finish,” Garcia said. “We haven’t seen any reason to back off that goal. There are things we’re going to have to improve, but the guys are really committed to it.”
The NCAA Regional course is hillier and more challenging than Pomona’s, which Garcia said will work in his squad’s favor.
“Western Washington’s course is much more representative of what we’ve been preparing ourselves for this season as compared to the conference course,” Garcia said. “The conference course is essentially a road race on dirt: really flat and really fast. I think we’ve got one of the toughest men’s and women’s teams around, so a strength-oriented course suits us well.”