Stanford Invitational, new terrain for cross country team

Mike McGough

Sacramento State cross country competed Saturday at the Stanford Invitational. The men’s team took 15th place out of 18 teams while the Hornet women finished seventh out of 21.

The Hornet women finished the 6K with a score of 255, good for seventh place. They edged out eighth-place finisher USC, who finished at 261.

Chloe Berlioux took 13th place overall, running the course in 21:26. Amanda Garcia finished in 22:34 and Veronica Stinnett was close behind her at 22:46. The team’s top three placers were identical to last week’s at the Mustang Challenge.

The team’s later finishers bunched up well. Six seconds after Stinnett, Emily Johnston crossed the line at 22:52. Gracie Albano completed the course in 23:00 and Adrianna Royal at 23:04.

“The race plan today was to get out and get in that front pack,” Berlioux said. “I think we did a really good job of getting off the line and putting ourselves in a good position to compete with some of the leading teams.”

After a good start, the team lagged a bit in the middle phase of the race, according to Berlioux.

Coach Joe Eby saw room for improvement.

“We came up a little short,” Eby said. “If we would have hung on we would have placed significantly higher. We just didn’t have quite the finish that I was hoping for. But all in all, it’s a pretty decent race.”

Eby noted that one of the team’s top runners, Lauren Mugnaini, did not compete at Stanford due to a hamstring injury. Mugnaini had finished 16th overall last week at the Mustang Challenge. She should recover within a few weeks Eby said.

The Stanford women won on their home course with a score of 71.

The Sac State men’s team proved less successful, finishing with a score of 370, ranked 15th among 18 schools. Long Beach State was the first team ahead of them at 323.

Sac State runner Jacob Huston, who took first place overall in the Mustang Challenge last week, was the team’s top finisher again. He earned 42nd place with a time of 24:38, 50 seconds ahead of the team’s next finisher, Drew Azevedo, who finished the course in 25:28.

Azevedo attributed the team’s score to the fact that about half the team had never run on Stanford’s course, as well as crowded conditions at the start of the race.

“At the start of this race, there’s always a lot of elbows being thrown and a lot of people tripping up,” Azevedo said. “And our plan was to try to go out hard so we could get a good position. But unfortunately, we kind of fell back.”

The men’s race proved competitive, as Washington State, UC Santa Barbara and Stanford took the top three spots with respective scores of 76, 77 and 79.

The Hornet men sent their middle four runners across the finish line within nine seconds of each other. Eric Molina finished with a time of 25:38 and Sam Scheuer finished at 25:42. Abe Espinoza and Mac Harvey shared a time of 25:47.

“All in all for them, it wasn’t a bad performance,” Eby said. “We’ve just got to get a little bit better, keep working really hard, and get some good workouts in the next couple weeks before we get into November.”

Azevedo, Berlioux and Eby each noted that Saturday’s meet was good experience given that Sac State cross country will return to Stanford Nov. 14 for the NCAA West Regional.

“We didn’t do terrible, but we can definitely do better,” Eby said. “[It’s] definitely something we can build on.”

Sac State will next compete at San Francisco State University’s Invitational Oct. 10 in San Francisco.