Heavy wind doesn’t stop Bears from reaching goals at Pac-12 Championship

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Friday’s race was hard for the Bears as they raced against nationally ranked Pac-12 teams, trying to place as high as possible and bring bragging rights home to UC Berkeley. The strong winds on the course didn’t help, however, but Cal pushed through and achieved its goals for this race.

The men’s team placed seventh out of nine Pac-12 teams, beating Arizona and Arizona State. These were exactly the teams the Bears aimed to beat, and they were able to do so by sticking together and maintaining a spread of only 32 seconds.

The women’s team placed ninth out of 12 teams. This result was expected, but leaves room for improvement and higher goals for the regionals race coming up in two weeks.

Sophomore Colin FitzGerald was the first finisher from Cal, with a time of 24:36.1. Redshirt junior Ben Harper was the fourth runner to finish for Cal, and came in with a personal best time of 24:45.6.

“The Pac-12 championship is obviously a hard conference, and we have a very young team so we had quite the task ahead of us. We had four of our top five runners run personal bests so we were able to execute the race we were hoping to,” Harper said.

The top six runners from the men’s team graduated last year, so the team views this year as a chance to focus on rebuilding through recruiting and improving performances. That being said, the team still managed to place the same as they did the year before, proving that the underclassmen on the team are up for the challenge.

“We’re proud of our finish. We executed the plan our coach laid out for us where we’ve been working all season on running our own race and working together. We were able to move up the field and beat the teams we knew we’d be able to beat,” Harper said.

Redshirt sophomore Mina Anglero placed 22nd in the race with a time of 20:21.6, an impressive finish considering she just started running cross country this fall.

“I went out hard from the beginning. We had a team to beat, which was Oregon State, so I just chased them the whole race, making sure I caught up to all of the girls. After that, I was just trying to pick off one after another until the finish line,” Anglero said.

Anglero’s goal was to place in the top 20, so coming just two spots shy of that was especially impressive since she was unable to practice all week from an Achilles tendon-related injury.

Unfortunately for the women’s team, they were not able to beat Oregon State. Cal did beat Washington State, Arizona State and USC.

“We had high expectations going into the race, but individually people were more or less happy with how their races went. Preparation for every race will be different, and I think our team has even more to give, so I’m excited for regionals in two weeks,” Anglero said.

Redshirt sophomore Brie Oakley placed fourth for the Bears at her first race of the season, with a time of 21:12.0. With Oakley back in racing shape, the women’s team has an extra edge that will help them even more at regionals.

The team will spend the next two weeks training in preparation for one of the biggest races of the year, the NCAA Western Regional.

Mia Horne covers cross country. Contact her at [email protected].