Cross Country Competes At Pac-10 Championship Saturday

Oct. 25, 1999

Eric Peterson's UCLA women's cross country team, ranked No. 14 last week and Bob Larsen's Bruin men's team will compete Saturday (Oct. 30) at the 1999 Pacific-10 Championships, held at El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach. The men's 8000m race (31st annual) will start at 11 a.m. and the women's 5000m race (14th annual) will begin at noon.

The Pac-10 is the toughest cross country conference in the U. S. The women's competition will be led by No. 1 ranked Stanford, followed by No. 9 Washington, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 14 UCLA and No. 23 Oregon, with Arizona also receiving votes. On the men's side, Stanford is rated No. 2 in the U. S., followed by No. 6 Arizona, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 12 Oregon, with Washington also receiving votes.

The Bruins have already run on this course once this season. On Oct. 9 at the Long Beach State Invite, the UCLA women won their division, with Bruin sophomore Elaine Canchola winning the 5000m race. In the men's division, the UCLA men placed second to California, with senior Will Bernaldo placing fourth over the 8000m course.

Running for the Bruin women at the Pac-10 meet will be Canchola, along with sophomore Kate Vermeulen, junior Kelly Cohn and Katie Nuanes, along with seniors, Kara Barnard and Melinda George. Also running for the Bruins will be either sophomore Jaclyn Nolan or junior Gina Donnelly.

UCLA's women will be looking to improve on their 1998 conference performance. Last year, the Bruins placed eighth (out of nine teams, Stanford was the team champion and is vying for its sixth title in seven years) at the Pac-10 meet, but came back strong two weeks later to place fifth at the Western Regional qualifying meet. That performance earned the UCLA women an at-large bid to the '98 NCAA Championships, the first time the Bruin women advanced to the nationals as a team in 10 years.

"Four of the top 14 teams in the nation will be competing on Saturday," said Bruin women's head coach Eric Peterson, in his sixth season. "Our goal is for our top four runners (Vermeulen, Canchola, Cohn and Nuanes) to challenge the top four runners at Washington and Arizona State. We have lost to Arizona State twice this year (at the Griak and NCAA Preview meets). I think our top four runners are as strong as Arizona State and Washington, now we have to prove it." The Bruin men will be running Bernaldo, senior Dan Brecht, sophomore Bryan Green and junior Mason Moore, along with seniors, Paul Muite and Matt Pitts. Also running will be junior Scott Abbott, slowed with a back injury, or freshman Justin Patananan.

UCLA's men will be looking to improve on last season's eighth place finish (out of eight teams, the Stanford men also won the team title and is seeking its fourth consecutive league crown).

"We're the most talented conference in the nation," said UCLA men's head coach Bob Larsen, in his 21st season and who is retiring at the end of the 1999-2000 season. "Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon have all separated themselves from the rest of the pack. There aren't any weak teams. The top four teams are out of range. We want to compete with the other three squads and try to finish as high as we can."

Following the conference championships, the Bruins will train for the 1999 NCAA Western Regional Qualifying meet, held at Portland, OR on Nov. 13. The 1999 NCAA Championships will be Nov. 22 at Bloomington, IN.

Last Friday (Oct. 22), UCLA women's "B" team (the Bruin men did not compete) won the Titan Invitational at CS Fullerton, winning with 42 points, over second-place UC Irvine (50) and third-place Pepperdine (92). The Bruins had three runners in the top five over the 5000m course-Nolan (third-place, 18:00.90), sophomore Melissa Peralta (fourth-place, 18:17.90) and senior Jessica Matthews (fifth-place, 18:20.40).

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)
    22-at  Titan Invitational (Fullerton, Bruin women, 1st place, Bruin men did not
           compete), 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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