Three hundred runners pushing, shoving and elbowing could have been a major roadblock for the Cal women’s cross country team this past Friday in Madison, Wis. However, with senior Deborah Maier in the driver’s seat, the Bears were able to negotiate the traffic to finish seventh in the Wisconsin Adidas (Badger) Invitational.
“Imagine driving down the highway when there is light traffic and you need to get to class quickly,” coach Tony Sandoval said. “Now imagine there is lots of traffic and there is roadwork along the way. It makes things a lot more complicated.”
The field was not only large but also extremely competitive, with 19 ranked teams participating. No. 10 Cal finished seventh, beating 13 ranked teams including No. 2 Providence, No. 12 Oregon and No. 9 Iowa State, who tied the Bears for first at the Griak Invitational.
Maier finished third overall, only eight seconds behind winner Sheila Reid of Villanova and averaged a blistering pace of 5:22 per mile over the 6,000-meter race. Seniors Taylor Dutch and Chelsea Reilly finished 62nd and 65th, respectively, for Cal. Rounding out the scoring for the Bears were young guns Kelsey Santisteban and Elisa Karhu, whose performances put them in the top third of the race.
“One of the things we tried to impress upon the women afterwards was that we want to be unsatisfied but not dissatisfied,” Sandoval said. “We ran well and we demonstrated that we can handle the heat.”
On the men’s side, junior Collin Jarvis and senior Maxime Chevee led the squad to a 25th place finish, beating No. 25 New Mexico and No. 28 Florida in the process.
Jarvis finished the 8,000-meter race with a time of 24:36, resulting in a 61st place finish, while Chevee finished with a time of 24:45. The nine-second differential between Jarvis and Chevee may seem minute, yet Chevee finished in 89th place, a gap that indicates how physical the race was.
Despite the strong performance by the upperclassmen, the younger and less experienced members of the team struggled against the toughness and discomfort brought on by the size of the field.
The men’s and women’s squad were able to run well enough to show that they have improved, yet at the same time there still remain things to work on other than their running.
“We made progress, but we need to work on the little things that we have a tendency to forget: sleeping right, eating well and warming up properly,” Sandoval said.
The Badger Invitational showed the squads more than just what they need to emphasize; it also acted as a first glimpse of what the NCAA championships will be like.
“The national meet is a different animal; until you’ve been there you can’t really prepare,” Sandoval said. “The Badger Invitational helped us take a step towards becoming better prepared. We did a good job of responding to the physicality, but now we can mentally prepare for nationals, so we aren’t overwhelmed by the physicality.”
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