The Cal women’s cross country team went into Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational unranked. That might change after the Bears beat out 26 other universities, including seven ranked teams, to finish in a tie for first with No. 8 Iowa State at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.
“The veteran women came out and performed, asserting themselves as a national caliber team,” coach Tony Sandoval said.
Senior Deborah Maier had a stellar day, winning the 6000-meter race by 12 seconds. The All-American was hanging in second at both the 1,000 and 3,000 meter marks, but she put it in high gear for the final 3,000 meters to finish with a time of 20:29.2.
“Deborah winning the individual title reiterates that she is one of the top runners in America,” Sandoval said. “She is a veteran, very savvy. She ran into control early and then took control of the whole field at about 4,000 meters.”
It wasn’t just Maier; Cal’s four other top finishers helped solidify the victory. Chelsea Reilly finished 18th with a time of 21:08.5 and Taylor Dutch finished 25th with a time of 21:18.2.
“Both Reilly and Dutch have not had big cross country success thus far, so for them this was a huge step forward,” Sandoval said.
Also scoring was freshman Kelsey Santisteban and Elisa Karhu who finished 34th and 50th respectively. After adding the places of each runner, the Bears finished with a team score of 128 to tie for the women’s title.
“This victory will earn us some respect, but it also validates that last year disappointment was for real,” Sandoval said. “Now it’s just a matter of keeping everyone healthy all the way to the end and garnering some national offers.”
The men’s team also had a strong performance in the 8,000 meter race, finishing ninth in a field of 24 teams despite being short handed.
Before the race, injury and sickness forced the withdrawal of starters Cody Schmidt and Chris Walden, yet their loss did not end up striking a huge blow to the men’s team.
The top two finishers for the men were junior Collin Jarvis and senior Maxime Chevee. Although Jarvis finished 15th and Chevee finished 18th, their times were separated by a mere nine-tenths of a second, a testament to the team work of the two veterans, who ran together for the whole race.
The less experienced runners also rose to the occasion, with three — J.P. Slater, Simon Schmidt and Matt Peterson — finishing in the top 100.
“We expected Collin and Maxime to run well, but I saw J.P., Simon, and Matt move up and pass some people,” Sandoval said. “Today, the men showed they had the potential to be fourthor fifthat full strength; nevertheless the others did a great job stepping up.”