A day after heavy rainfall, CSUN’s men’s and women’s cross country teams raced over grass and mud against opponents who came from as far as Ohio to compete at the Pepperdine University Invitational in Malibu, Calif on Saturday.
Although the men’s team did not officially score because it lost one of the five men necessary for scoring due to an injury in the 8-kilometer race, head coach Don Strametz said he is satisfied with the results and expects both men’s and women’s teams to perform even better at the upcoming UC Riverside Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 29.
“One of our athletes got injured, he twisted his ankle,” Strametz explained. “We are going to take this race as a workout.”
Graduate student Manuel Ruiz was the first of the four remaining Matadors to cross the finish line with a time of 26 minutes, 10.55 seconds. He placed 32nd out of 88 overall, while his teammate Diego Fernandez came in .79 of a second later in 33rd place. Senior Mike Stotland finished in 73rd place with the time of 27:53.62 and sophomore Juan Olea followed five places behind with the time of 28:39.23.
Junior Demsy Mazariego, who dropped out of the race because of an injured ankle, said he slipped and fell during the race.
“There was some mud and I went down,” Mazariego said. “After that, I did try to go for a little bit.”
Although Mazariego did not finish the race, he said he feels confident about next week’s race at UC Riverside. By next Saturday, he said, he should be in shape to compete again.
Assistant coach Andrea Palacio is looking forward to next Saturday’s race as an opportunity to better prepare for the regional competitions.
“Riverside is going to be pretty big,” Palacio said. “This is kind of like a preview to the Big West Championships.
The women’s cross country team also did well at the Pepperdine Invitational, Strametz said.
“They are really starting to come together now,” Strametz said.
In the women’s 6-kilometer race, junior Sharon Wilkinson was the first Matador to finish the race in 61st place out of 112 runners with a time of 23:09.24. Marissa Crook followed Wilkinson in 62nd place with the time of 23:10.75. Eleven places behind Crook, Lilyanna Morejon finished the race in 23:39.21. Nanci Velarde finished 91st in 24:36.44, while Sandra Velarde and Leslie Ching finished in 95th and 103rd with the times of 25:00.81 and 26:40.79, respectively.
The women’s team, Wilkinson said, had plenty of time to warm up and prepare for the race, but the men’s team did not. The bus that was scheduled to pick up the team at 5:30 a.m. on campus did not show up and after waiting for 40 minutes the Matadors had to drive to the race on their own and nearly missed the start of the men’s race at 7 a.m.
Strametz said he has had similar experiences in the past.
“About every three years something happens with the bus,” he explained.
Even though humidity remained high and the temperature did not rise above the fifties throughout the morning, both Wilkinson and Morejon said that the weather did not bother them.
“It was fun,” said Morejon. “I like running in this kind of weather.”
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