LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to Louisville, Colo., to compete in the 2013 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships. The meet, hosted by the University of Colorado on the Coal Creek Golf Course is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2. The men will run an 8k at 9:40 a.m. PT, and the women will follow with the 6k at 10:40 a.m.
"This is a really good group we have racing this weekend,” coach Forest Braden said. “Everyone has earned this trip and I am very excited to watch them race. There is good balance on both teams with talented youngsters and wily old veterans. They are amazing athletes and tough competitors, now we are just going to go out there on Saturday and have some fun."
The Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks on a tape-delayed basis. The first airing is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. PT. Dwight Stones will serve as the analyst, while Jim Watson will provide play-by-play. Check local listing for channel and additional air times.
The Bruins will tackle a course in the men’s 8k race that consists of three-2k loops and two-1k loops. The women’s 6k race consists of two-2k loops and two-1k loops. The course consists of rolling fairways, no elevation gain, and several sharp turns.
As usual the Pac-12 field is packed with talent. Four men’s teams are ranked in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches poll. Oregon follows top-ranked Colorado at No. 4, followed by No. 13 Stanford and No. 25 Washington. Arizona State is also receiving votes.
On the women’s side, half of the Pac-12 field is ranked in the USTFCCCA poll, setting up another tightly-contested race. Leading the way is Arizona, ranked No. 1 heading into the week. Oregon checks in at No. 12, then Washington at No. 13. Host Colorado comes in at No. 16, while Stanford is ranked 20th. Rounding out the league’s women’s teams in the polling is ASU at No. 26.
"The girls should be able to find each other well and execute the game plan on Saturday,” Braden said. “We have a good pack ready to roll with each other every step of the race. This will be a key to our success, close the gap from 2-5. They are ready for the challenge."
UCLA is coming off a sweep at the Titan invitational last weekend. Jen Owen finished third overall to help lead the women to a 31-56 victory over runner-up San Diego State while the Austin O’Neil placed 10th to pace the men to a 88-120 win over host Fullerton. Kelsey Smith and Nick Hartle were the top finishers the week before at the prestigious Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
""Kelsey has led the team from day one and fuels everyone through her enjoyment of competition,” Braden explained. “She will run through a wall if the team needed her to. That kind of athlete is fun to coach. Nick is in a good place right now. He is a fierce competitor and is willing to go through hell every step of every race. Every time he steps to the line there is a chance that he will make something special happen."
Nohe Lema and Daniel De La Torre make season debuts for the men. Lema was all-region last year and brings leadership and confidence to the team. Coach Braden described Daniel is as one of the most talented a freshman as the Bruins have had and is ready to put on the jersey and represent his team.
Seniors competing in their final Pac-12 meet are Nohe Lema, Zack Torres, Patrick Douglas, Jacob Wood and Elle Sanders.
The NCAA Regional Championships will be Friday, Nov. 15. The West Regional (hosted by Sacramento State University) will be held in Sacramento, Calif. The NCAA National Championships are being held in Terre Haute, Ind. (hosted by Indiana State University) on Saturday, Nov. 23.