UC Davis took the Aggie Open Saturday morning at Putah Creek Reserve with the women winning the race 20-39 and the men winning 25-40.
“For this meet we planned to work in groups,” said Sacramento State senior Teresa Mallory. “We try to run in packs to encourage each other during the race.”
Mallory competed in every meet last season (2013) and ran 18 minutes, nine seconds, her fastest 5-kilometer time at the Inter-Regional Jamboree.
Hornet junior Chloe Berlioux finished the 4K race Saturday in second place clocking 14 minutes, 24 seconds behind Aggie junior Christine Hoffman who came in with a time of 14 minutes, 17 seconds.
Last season, Berlioux finished in the top three on the team for every meet and placed 12th at the Big Sky Championships with a 5K time of 17 minutes, 26 seconds.
First-year Sac State athlete, senior Jacob Huston passed the finish line second at the Aggie Open, with the fastest time among collegiate competitors at 18 minutes, 56 seconds for the 6K race. Aggie Brandon Pugh came in behind him finishing at 19 minutes, five seconds.
In his second year as head cross country coach, Joe Eby said he has been training athletes during the summer by doing strength work and tempo runs.
During training, the women’s team ran 200 meters after the main workout to improve speed during the last 400 meters of a race, Mallory said.
“The outlook on the women’s side should be really good with all of our returners,” Eby said. “On the guys side we are pretty young, pretty inexperienced, so it is a huge question mark.”
A season goal for men’s cross country is getting top five in the Big Sky Conference. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is the team’s motivational motto in achieving the goal, Huston said.
“Tempo work is big because it basically gets us comfortable,” Huston said. “That first mile was 5:20, our tempo pace is about five to 10 seconds faster than that, so everyone was super relaxed during that first mile.”
The women’s 14-player roster is mainly returners with the exception of four freshmen.
“I’d like to highlight the incoming freshman, they are beasts,” Mallory said. “Out of the three years that I’ve been here none of our incoming freshman have been doing the workouts the way any of the (veterans) do.”
Freshman Gracie Albano said team bonding will ease the transition into college and said she prefers Eby’s coaching style compared to others she has had in the past.
“I think that he is very down to earth,” Albano said. “I like him a lot. He is a really good coach and I am lucky enough to be on his team.”
Sacramento State will hit the road Sept. 20 and compete in the central coast at the Mustang Challenge in Santa Clarita, Calif.