CSUN cross-country improves as Big West Championship approaches

A+chart+of+the+Matadors+finishing+times+for+both+the+mens+and+womens+cross-country+teams+at+the+Santa+Clara+Bronco+Invitational+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+15%2C+2022%2C+in+Sunnyvale%2C+Calif.

Edward Segal

A chart of the Matadors’ finishing times for both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

David Nunez, Reporter

Both CSUN cross-country teams improved considerably in their race times and placement during their last race Saturday at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational in Sunnyvale, California. The men’s team claimed 17th place out of 26 teams and recorded an average time of 25 minutes and 0.5 seconds over eight kilometers. Meanwhile, the women’s team finished 24th out of 28 teams and had an average finishing time of 22:54.84 over six kilometers.

Before the Bronco, CSUN’s biggest challenge was the UC Riverside Invitational, which had 31 schools compete in the women’s race and 30 in the men’s. In comparison to that race, the Matadors saw much greater success on Saturday. Both teams improved in their finishing times. The men brought their average time down by 32 seconds while the women brought theirs down by 21 seconds. Both groups also finished in higher placements than they did at Riverside, which saw the men claim 23rd place and the women finish last.

“Once again, Daniel Rodriguez kept us on pace and in the race,” said CSUN assistant coach Devin Elizondo about the race on Saturday. “We saw Camilo [Torres] break out. Finishing in 24:30 is no easy task, especially in a field like this.”

Freshman Torres finished first for the men’s team with a time of 24:30.4 and placed 53rd in the entire race. His time in this race became his new personal record for the eight-kilometer competition. Not far behind, sophomore Rodriguez crossed second for CSUN with a time of 24:52.1 and a final placing of 88th in the race.

For the women’s team, sophomore Nicole Contreras crossed first for the Matadors with a time of 21:58.3, placing 108th in the race overall. This was her first time finishing in under 22 minutes for the Matadors and became her new personal record in six kilometers. Sophomore Elin Markarian crossed the line second for CSUN and recorded a time of 22:30.6, claiming 142nd place. Right behind her was junior Sonia Avila who came in 2.5 seconds later, and finished in 144th place.

“We’re continuing to see that level of excellence in Nicole. I think she even kind of surprised herself since she wasn’t feeling the best that day,” Elizondo said. “Also being able to see Sonia and Elin emerge has just been really great for the group.”

With all of the invitational races out of the way, the Matadors have their sights set on The Big West Championship.

“Anytime you can mimic and rehearse the emotion and the physicality of a championship arena, that’s what this weekend was for,” Elizondo said. “Our group has started to believe in the little things now. The day-to-day practice has been getting us good at the simple things, so we can get ready for big things, and there’s no bigger thing than this race coming up.”

The Matadors will race next in The Big West Championship on Oct. 29 in Riverside, California.