Cal cross country tallies middle-of-pack finish at Pac-12 Championships

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Phillip Downey/File

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This past Friday, the 2016 Pac-12 Championships witnessed excitement and forthcoming accomplishments. The Cal cross country team went to Tucson, Arizona, and performed as expected in their respective middle-of-the-pack finishes.

The Randolph North Golf Course saw the No. 25 Cal women’s cross country team finish the 6K event sixth out of 12 teams. The Bears overall time of 1:48.29 was enough to place them behind No. 17 Utah and above No. 23 UCLA.

Junior Bethan Knights had the best Cal performance on the day, finishing with a time of 20:34.3 to place No. 7 out of a field of 105. This placement went on to give her four consecutive top-10 displays since the start of the season. The runner that followed her was, to no surprise, sophomore Marissa Williams with her time of 21:31.5.

Just five seconds behind Williams was redshirt senior Xochitl Navarrete, who nearly finished second in the team’s scoring. Two freshman followed Navarrete in Skyler Flora and Marissa Dobry, as their times of 22:17.4 and 22:29.9 closed out this part of Pac-12 play.

The men’s team had a very similar showing in the 8K race when its overall time of 2:07.29 placed them sixth out of nine opponents. An exciting race ensued, as, for the first time since the USF Invitational, redshirt junior Trent Brendel beat sophomore Robert Brandt to the finish. Brendel’s time of 24:53.4 gave him a top-20 individual finish, placing 17th out of a field of 76.

Just barely missing out on the top-20 was Brandt’s time of 24:58.3, placing him 21st overall. Like the women’s race, Junior Garrett Corcoran’s 25:05.7 came close, but was unable to unseat Brandt for the team’s second place finish. Redshirt freshman Paul Zeiss crossed the finish line almost a minute later, and redshirt sophomore Steve Correa’s 26:31.39 closed out the day.

The No. 7 Colorado men’s team was able to capture its sixth consecutive conference title, repeating additions to its winning streak since joining the league in 2011. The No. 1 Colorado’s women’s team was no different as it was crowned champions for the second year in a row.

Oregon senior Edward Cheserek went on to win the men’s race in 23:58.9, leading him to become the first ever four-time Pac-12 men’s champion. The women’s race was the most exciting out of the two as Washington’s junior Amy-Eloise Neale’s time of 20:22.9 won the race by the most minimal of margins.

Battling it out down the stretch from shoulder to shoulder were Neale and Colorado’s senior Erin Clark. It seemed the both had crossed the finish line at the same time, but when the results were revealed, Neale had won the race by just .04 seconds.

The goals that were set at the beginning of the season are at stake in two weeks at the NCAA Western Regional Qualifying. The women can qualify to the national meet for the first time in four years, while the men can once again get a crack at running at nationals.

Oscar Oxlaj covers cross country. Contact him at [email protected]