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Cross Country Teams To Compete At Titan Invitational
By: UCLA Athletics

Oct. 18, 1999

LOS ANGELES - Eric Peterson's UCLA women's cross country team, rated No. 22 in the nation last week, will send a "B" squad and Bob Larsen's Bruin men will send several individuals to the CS Fullerton Titan Invitational held Friday (Oct. 22). The men's race (8000m) will start at 4 p.m. and the women's race (5000m) will start at 4:45 p.m. The course will be on the CS Fullerton campus.

UCLA's varsity women's and men's teams this weekend will be training for the upcoming 1999 Pacific-10 Championship, held Saturday, Oct. 30 at El Dorado Park (East) in Long Beach.

Last Saturday (Oct. 16), both the Bruin women's and men's varsity ran in the Pre-NCAA Meet, held at Bloomington, IN and hosted by the University of Indiana. The race was an opportunity for the nation's elite teams to run on the same course that will host the upcoming 1999 NCAA Cross Country Championship on Nov. 22.

Looking for a high finish to help their chance of getting an NCAA at-large bid (announced Nov. 15), the Bruin women placed an impressive 10th (out of 33 teams), with 364 points. The women's team winner was No. 1 ranked Stanford, with 77 points. The Bruin women defeated six teams that were ranked higher than UCLA in last week's Top 25-No. 9 Villanova (placed 20th, 485), No. 12 Notre Dame (placed 22nd, 523), No. 13 Minnesota (placed 12th, 402), No. 14 Missouri (placed 18th, 445), No. 15 Arizona (placed 19th, 484 points) and No. 17 Michigan State (placed 13th, 407 points),

The Bruin women placed four of their top seven runners in the top 75. Leading UCLA was sophomore Kate Vermeulen. The transfer from West Virginia, who won the mile at the 1999 NCAA Indoor, placed 48th, running the 5000m course in 18:10.85. She was followed by sophomore Elaine Canchola ( 51st, 18:12.29), junior Katie Nuanes (71st, 18:23.66) and junior Kelly Cohn (72nd, 18:24.36).

UCLA's other three runners were sophomore Alynda Franco (122nd, 18:50.49), senior Kara Barnard (137th, 18:59.55) and senior Melinda George (184th, 19:37.00).

The women's individual winner was Colorado senior Kara Wheeler, 17:07.03.

"Our team set two goals going into the Pre-NCAA Meet,"said Peterson, in his sixth season as the Bruin women's head coach. "This was a tall order knowing that seven of the Top 10 teams in the nation would be competing. So, if through the course of the race we felt this goal was slipping away, it was important for us to remain composed in order to finish in the Top 10.

"Fortunately, we were able to stay composed through the race and place in the Top 10. Beating seven teams ranked ahead of us was a significant accomplishment for our young squad."

The Bruin men entered the meet unranked, yet beat two ranked squads, No. 26 Bucknell (31st place, 694 points) and No. 31 Michigan State (27th, 583), along with Pac-10 opponent Washington State (35th, 1024). The Bruins placed 25th (out of 35 teams), with 549 points. Stanford, the nation's No. 2 ranked men's team, won the men's team scoring with 126 points.

UCLA was led by senior Will Bernaldo, who placed 66th over the 8000m course in a time of 25:18.55. The Bruins other runners were sophomore Bryan Green (101st, 25:43.65), junior Mason Moore (114th, 25:51), senior Dan Brecht (126th, 25:56.33), senior Matt Pitts (144th, 26:05), junior Scott Abbott (181st, 26:27.67) and junior Paul Muite (191st, 26:36.29).

The men's individual winner was Oregon senior Steve Fein, 24:06.31.

"This was not an easy course and overall we ran well," said Larsen, in his 21st season as the UCLA men's head coach. "Beating 10 teams in this elite competition showed that we belonged in this race. Will Bernaldo ran an excellent race, passing a lot of runners with about 2000m remaining. If we had been clicking on all cylinders (Scott Abbott ran with a lower back problem and it was Paul Muite's first race of the season), we could have placed in the top 15 or top 20. This team continues to improve and it is ahead of where it was at this time last year."

1999 UCLA Schedule/Results

Sept. 4-at CS Fullerton Invite (Bruin women/men, both first-place)
     18-at Aztec Invite (San Diego, Bruin women, second-place)
     25- at Roy Griak Invite (Minneapolis, MN, Bruin women, 
                              sixth-place, Bruin men, 12th-place)

Oct. 2-at Stanford Invite (Bruin women "B" team, fourth-place in college division) 9-at Long Beach State Invite (Bruin women, first-place, Bruin men, second-place) 16-at NCAA Preview (Bloomington, IN, Bruin women, 10th-place, Bruin men, 25th- place) 30-at Pac-10 Championship (El Dorado Park (East) in Long Beach)

Nov. 13-at NCAA Western Region Qualifying (Portland, OR) 22-at NCAA Championship (Bloomington, IN)

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