Sept. 29, 2007
Behind the return of All-American Austin Ramos, the UCLA men's cross country team ran to a fifth-place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Eugene, OR. Ramos, who redshirted the 2006 cross country season, led the Bruins with his fifth-place run (23:37) as host school Oregon won the meet.
"I am pleased with today's finish," said head coach Eric Peterson. "I saw some good things out of our men's team race. First off, it's great to have Austin back leading this team. He ran a great race and he felt like there was more there. He hasn't competed in cross country since 2005. He's an athlete that tends to improve as the season goes on and it's a really good sign for both him individually and our team to have him back."
The Bruins finished one point ahead of UTEP, the No. 6 team in the country and No. 2 team in the Mountain Region which bodes well for UCLA's post-season outlook. The UTEP team is comprised entirely of runners from Kenya, a country known for its exceptional distance racing heritage. Finishing ahead of this team is a huge step towards UCLA's development as a team in the national spotlight.
Ramos on the race
"For me personally, there is defintely a lot of rust there and I got out kind of slow which I think affected my finish. As a team, we hoped to get fourth, but we are incredibly far ahead of where we've ever been. In my years here, I've never been on any team as close to how good we are now. We are pretty excited about where we are at. We finished just behind two top-10 ranked teams and we know we can improve. We are very optimistic about the rest of the season."
Junior Laef Barnes was the No. 2 runner for UCLA, running a lifetime-best of 23:58.
"This was one of the better cross country races of Laef's career," added Peterson. "He kicked well at the end and although I think he made too aggressive of a move a little too early, he did great. That's a tactic that we can work out and will do so the next few weeks."
"I felt that everyone behind Laef on this team ran the early part of the race a little tentatively," noted Peterson. "We are a very good team and we have the potential to be an excellent team at the national level this year. However, the number one tactic that we need to improve on right now is to get all of our athletes committed to a more aggressive racing position early on in the race. We need to be closer to the front, get out a little faster, and when we do we will have a better result."
Team Finishes (top-5 of 15)
1. Oregon, 54 points; 2. Wisconsin, 73 points; 3. Alabama, 111 points; 4. Portland, 137 points; 5. UCLA, 147 points.
UCLA Individual Results
5. Austin Ramos, 23:37; 22. Laef Barnes, 23:58; 35. Drew Shackleton, 24:10; 37. Kyle Shackleton, 24:11; 51. Jake Matthews, 24:28; 52. Alex Crabill, 24:28; 57. Marco Anzures, 24:31; 57. Evan Watchempino, 24:40; 70. Marlon Patterson, 24:45; 102. Henry Hagenbuch, 25:21.