Rebounding from a disappointing performance at the Big Sky Conference Championships Nov. 1 in North Dakota, Sacramento State’s women’s cross country team finished 14th of 34 qualifying teams in Friday’s NCAA Division I West Regional at Stanford.
Senior Amanda Garcia led the way for the Hornets in the 6K race, as her time of 21:12.4 secured her 35th place among 230 finishers.
”I ran really well,” Garcia said. “All season I’ve been kind of improving, but this race I felt really strong and there was never a point where I just felt totally drained. I just kept plugging away.”
It was Garcia’s first race leading her team this season. Garcia did not compete in the West Regional last year due to injury, and has been in the recovery process ever since.
Chloe Berlioux, who had led Sac State in every meet in which she had competed entering Friday’s race, finished 51st overall with a time of 21:24.8.
“I didn’t do exactly what I was expecting to do,” Berlioux said. “I went out there and just kind of put in my best effort but it just didn’t come together as well as I was expecting it to today.”
Berlioux was in the lead pack in the middle stages of the race, before Garcia was able to pass her teammate.
“I knew Chloe was up there in the front of the pack, and I just felt like as long as I kept moving up, then I would eventually catch her and hopefully take her along with me,” Garcia said.
Seniors Veronica Stinnett and Teresa Mallory packed up well at Stanford, posting times of 21:59.8 and 22:00.6, respectively. The two secured 89th and 90th place among ranked runners.
Emily Johnston’s time of 22:44.2 landed her in 142nd place. Johnston rounded out Sac State’s five ranked finishers—all seniors.
Sac State’s score of 407 was good for 14th place, edging out Cal Poly’s team, which finished with 412. Oregon, a team that had five runners in the top 25, finished in the top rank with a score of 88.
Berlioux indicated prior to the race that she hoped the team would post a top 16 finish, and was pleased with her team’s effort as a whole.
“We did really well, actually,” Berlioux said. “We beat Portland State, so we kind of got some vengeance from [the] conference. And we beat some really respectful teams as well. I think we went out and did kind of what we wanted to.”
Portland State finished sixth at the Big Sky Conference Championships, three spots ahead of Sac State. At the West Regional, Portland State finished 17th, three spots behind Sac State.
Head coach Joe Eby said his team did well to stick to the race plan.
“Ultimately, I felt like they executed the plan that we set out for them really, really well,” Eby said.
Eby added that the biggest challenge posed by the race was the caliber of competition.
“The West Region is really, really good,” Eby said. “The race in and of itself is a challenge. It’s just such a competitive race, and there’s so many people and so many really great athletes. It’s tough.”
The race was run on Stanford’s golf course. The Hornets had experience with the course prior to Friday’s race, having competed at the Stanford Invitational in late September. Sac State finished 7th of 21 women’s teams at that meet.
On the men’s side, Jacob Huston was the sole representative of Sac State. Huston finished the 10K with a time of 31:22.5, placing 102nd among 192 runners.
Eby’s decision to send just one runner from the men’s team to Stanford and end the men’s season early stemmed from late-season injury issues. These injuries plagued the team in the final weeks, as Sac State finished 11th of 12 teams two weeks ago at the Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships.
Eby felt that the women’s cross country season ended on a good note.
“It was a way better note to end on than what would have been two weeks ago,” Eby said. “I think it gives us good feelings about the season as a whole, and it gives us some good feelings about moving into track.”
Though the cross country season has come to an end, the downtime will not be long for some of Sac State’s runners. Most of the Hornets—including Garcia, Berlioux and Huston—are also on the roster for Sac State’s track and field team, whose season begins in late January, just two months away.
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