Sacramento State’s cross country team competed in the 2014 Big Sky Conference Championships on Saturday in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where senior Chloe Berlioux was a bright spot amidst some struggles.
Berlioux finished third overall in the women’s 5K as the team took ninth place among the 12 conference teams, and Tyler Sickler was Sac State’s leader on the men’s side as the team took 11th place in the 8K race.
“I felt pretty good,” Berlioux said. “I was really trying to be at least in the top three today, and it was a lot harder than I wanted it to be, but I’m pretty happy about the finish.”
Berlioux’s time of 17:18.8 was nearly a minute faster than that of Sac State’s next finisher in the 5K, Lauren Mugnaini, who finished in 18:15.3 for a 38th place finish overall. There were 89 runners total on the women’s side.
Berlioux felt that she could have performed even better, particularly near the end of the race.
Coach Joe Eby was pleased with Berlioux’s performance.
“Chloe Berlioux had a phenomenal race and stuck her nose in it,” Eby said. “She ended up third, running really, really well.”
Amanda Garcia completed the course in 18:28.3 and Teresa Mallory finished in 18:33.7, taking 49th and 53rd respectively.
The Hornets finished ninth on the women’s side with a score of 204, just behind Montana who finished with 202. Northern Arizona won the conference championship with a score of 61.
A crosswind between 25 and 35 mph made both the women’s 5K and the men’s 8K challenging for the Hornets.
“It was definitely not comfortable, and I think everybody put in their best effort and that’s really all you can ask for in a conference championship meet,” Berlioux said.
Eby added that there is no way to simulate these kinds of winds in Sacramento this time of year.
On the men’s side, Tyler Sickler ran the 8K course in 26:21.7, finishing 47th overall among 87 runners. It was Sickler’s first race leading the team this season.
“A lot of us were kind of battling some injuries in this race,” Sickler said. “It felt really good being up there, though, playing the leadership role. So it was a cool experience.”
The Hornets’ next four finishers crossed the line within 30 seconds of one another. Jacob Huston took 52nd overall with a time of 26:28.5. Sam Scheuer ran the course in 26:44.1, taking 57th place, and Eric Molina finished 59th with a time of 26:45.8. Abe Espinoza came in 67th place at 26:58.3.
Senior Drew Azevedo did not compete due to an injury.
“Our plan was to pack up for the first three miles and move up,” Sickler said. “We actually executed that pretty well. But just that last half, I guess some us just weren’t able to go.”
Sac State’s men’s team finished 11th of 12 with a score of 282, behind Portland State at 278. Northern Arizona dominated the men’s race, winning first place with a score of 24 and taking the top three spots in the 8K.
Eby explained that although the team had a rough day, he was happy with the efforts put in by some of his younger runners, including Sickler, Scheuer and Molina.
“Overall, I felt like we had some young guys that executed the plan well and ran tough,” Eby said. “We’re just a real young team and very inexperienced, and I don’t think they were quite ready for the level that our conference meet is at.”
Eby added that the women’s team will need to have a “short memory” about Saturday’s race as they prepare for the upcoming NCAA Division I West Regional which will be run Nov. 14 at Stanford.
The Hornets’ next scheduled meet is the Doc Adams Invitational Nov. 8 at Davis.