Sept. 20, 1999
LOS ANGELES - UCLA women's cross country team and Bob Larsen's Bruin men's squad will run this Saturday (Sept. 25) in the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis. The women's (5000m) and men's (8000m) races will held on the Lee Bolstad Golf Course, located on the Minnesota campus. The men's invitational, featuring 22 teams, will start at 9 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. CDT) and the women's race, featuring 28 squads, will start at 10 a.m. PDT (noon CDT). In all, over 210 teams (NCAA Div. II, III, NAIA and high school) with over 2,000 runners will compete in six races.
One of the largest collegiate cross country invites in the nation, the Roy Griak Invitational will feature 11 nationally-rated women's and men's teams. The UCLA women are preseason ranked No. 20 in the nation. The Bruin women will be joined by No. 1 Brigham Young, No. 10 Providence, No. 15 Northern Arizona, No. 16 Arizona State, No. 17 Boston College, No. 18 Missouri, No. 21 Weber State, No. 23 Minnesota, No. 25 Colorado State and No. 28 Arizona. In men's competition, the top teams will be No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 6 Northern Arizona, No. 7 Providence, No. 9 Oregon, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 15 Butler, No. 19 Weber State, No. 25 Iowa, No. 26 Missouri, No. 29 Duke and No. 30 Portland. The Bruin men?s team is not ranked.
At last year's Roy Griak Invite, the Bruin women placed fourth and the UCLA men were 14th. Providence won both the women's and men's 1998 team titles.
Competing for the Bruin women will be--seniors, Kara Barnard and Melinda George, juniors, Kelly Cohn and Katie Nuanes and sophomores, Elaine Canchola, Kate Vermeulen and Alynda Franco, along with junior Gina Donnelly or freshman Stefani Clark. UCLA will be without two senior runners--Christina Bowen (back injury) and Julie Ott, who is redshirting in cross country with a hip injury. This will be Vermeulen's first performance of the season. She is a transfer from West Virginia who last season at the NCAA Indoor won the mile.
"Last year we placed fourth in this meet and this year?s field is even stronger," said Peterson, in his sixth season as the Bruin women's head coach. "Our goal on Saturday is to finish in the Top 5 once again. This meet is very important when looking ahead to NCAA at-large bids (the Bruins received an at-large bid last season for the first time since 1988). At-large bids are based on your record vs. teams outside your region. In retrospect, our performance in this meet last year helped us get our NCAA bid."
The Bruin men will run seniors, Will Bernaldo, Dan Brecht and Matt Pitts, juniors, Mason Moore and Scott Abbott, sophomores, Brian Green and Martin Brix and freshman Justin Pantananan. This will be the first meet of the season for Bernaldo, one of the top runners on UCLA's team last season. The Bruins will be without junior Paul Muite, another top runner from 1998.
"It will be a challenge for our team," said Larsen, in his 21st season as the UCLA men?s cross country coach. "We placed 14th last year with (Mark) Hauser (UCLA's All-American cross country runner in 1998) and Muite and now we?re hoping to place higher than 14th without those runners. I'm optimistic we can place higher than last year. If we finish in the top half of the field I'll be pleased."
Last Saturday (Sept. 18), UCLA women's cross country team placed second at the Aztec Invitational, hosted by San Diego State at Balboa Park in San Diego.
The Bruin women finished second with 40 points, just three points behind team champion Arizona. The Wildcats, the defending NCAA women's champion, won with 37 points. Rounding out the Top Five women's teams (out of 11) behind Arizona and UCLA were--No. 3 UC Irvine (99), No. 4 San Diego State (148) and No. 5 Southern Utah (155).
The Bruin women placed four of their top seven runners in the Top 10. UCLA's highest placement was Cohn, who was fourth with a time of 18:05. UCLA's other Top 10 finishers included--No. 5 Canchola (18:11), No. 7 Barnard (18:19) and No. 8 Nuanes (18:20). UCLA's other three finishers were--No. 16 Franco (18:41), No. 20 George (18:51) and No. 29 Clark (19:28)
The women's individual winner over the 5,000m course was Arizona's Tara Chaplin, with a time of 17:21. The Wildcats had five runners in the Top 11.
"I was disappointed that we didn?t beat Arizona," Peterson said. "But with 800m left in the race, (Katie) Nuanes and (Kara) Barnard passed four Arizona runners to get us into contention. We raced less than 48 hours after returning from a nearly two-week training camp. We ran with tired legs and without (Christina) Bowen and (Kate) Vermeulen. I was impressed with the finishes of our top four runners."
The men's invitational (six teams) team title was also won by Arizona, with 19 points. Arizona's Micheil Jones won the men's 8,000m individual race, with a time of 25:04. The UCLA men did not compete at the Aztec Invite.