The CSUN men and women’s cross country teams placed seventh at the Big West Cross Country Championships at the UC Riverside Agricultural Operations course on Saturday, despite a career-best finish for women’s runner Liz Camy and a top-20 finish by men’s runner Manuel Ruiz.
Camy posted a Big West Championship career-best time of 21:15.7, which was good for third place in the 6K event. Her finish marked the highest of any runner, men or women, since CSUN became a member of the Big West Conference.
For the men, Ruiz finished 17th, with a time of 24:45.7, and was followed by senior Damian Mendoza, who placed 43rd, with a time of 26:16.3.
“He (Ruiz) learned more this year than any other,” head coach Don Strametz said. “If he did not start his training a month late, he could have finished fifth or sixth.”
Senior Christian Haase finished 45th, with a time of 26:19.5 for the Matadors while senior Daniel Clements finished with a time of 28:02.0, which was good enough for 53rd.
Senior Ross Spaulding finished 54th with a time of 30:13.5 and senior Eros Rice had a time of 32:19.3 and finished 55th.
Overall, CSUN finished with 182 points, ahead of UCI, who finished with 140, while CSU Fullerton had 181.
“I was very pleased with our overall finish,” Strametz said. “We had 12 out of our 14 people run their lifetime best. It was productive.”
For the men, Cal Poly won its third consecutive title and its sixth in the last eight years.
The Mustangs had five runners finish in the top 10, led by senior Andy Coughlin’s second place finish. Coughlin ran the 8K course in a time of 24:02.3 and led a pack of three Mustangs, who finished within two seconds of his pace.
Junior Matt Johnsrud was third to finish for the Mustangs, at 24:02.8. Senior Brandon Collins finished fourth with a time of 24:03.1 and junior Brian Baker was sixth. Freshman Alex Dunn rounded out the group of scorers for Cal Poly, crossing the finish line in ninth place, at 24:17.7.
“Cal Poly puts a lot more emphasis on distance,” Strametz said. “We beat them in track and field. To compete in distance would jeopardize our outdoor championship.”
For the women, UC Irvine secured the conference crown, beating out last year’s winner, UC Santa Barbara.
Anteater Amber Steen captured the individual title by a time of 20:55.5. Teammate Laura Olvera finished second, five seconds behind. The Gaucho’s top finisher was Bethany Nickless, who finished fifth with a time of 21:23.5.
The men’s individual champion was UC Santa Barbara’s Chris Ashley, who ran the course in a time of 23:51.7, more than 17 seconds faster than last year’s first place winner. Ashley’s time was the fastest among all Big West runners at any meet this season.
However, the Gauchos came in second place as a team recording 38 points, thanks in part to three runners crossing in the top 10. In addition to Ashley’s performance, junior Mike Chavez was fifth at 24:03.6 and senior Alex Cardiasmenos placed seventh, with a time of 24:04.5.
The Matadors, along with the rest of the Big West will now turn their attention to the NCAA Regionals in Stanford on Nov. 12.
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.