LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men’s and women’s cross country teams will participate in its final tune up before the Pac-12 Championships as the Bruins head to Fullerton to compete in the Titan Invitational. The event is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 25, with the women’s 5K slated at 4:45 p.m., followed by the men’s 8K at 5:15 p.m. The races will be held on the Cal State Fullerton campus.
“Although this is not the biggest meet we will run this year, every time you get a chance to put on the uniform you take it and run with it,” coach Forest Braden said. “Every race is an opportunity to push the limits of what you thought were possible and try to be better than you have ever been and do something better than you have ever done.”
Primarily local schools will be participating in the Titan Invitational, as the UCLA women will be going up against Fullerton, Azusa Pacific, Orange Coast College, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Loyola Marymount, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, San Diego and UNLV.
The men's field will include runners from Cal State Fullerton, Azusa Pacific, Loyola Marymount, Orange Coast College, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and San Diego.
“This is an opportunity to run with your teammates and represent your university, some, for the final time,” Braden added. “Everyone here has a special talent and has earned this opportunity and we are excited yet again to take advantage of this chance to let all our hard work, pay off. I am looking forward to seeing who steps up and decides to be great tomorrow. We have some hidden talent on both teams and it is just a matter of time before it really shines through. This could be that meet.”
The start and finish of the race will be on the track at the Titan Track Complex, while the course loops around the grass recreation fields, and the concrete and asphalt pathways around the Titan Sports Complex. The course surface is approximately 30 percent grass and 70 percent concrete and asphalt.
Individually Braden pointed out freshmen Myles Smith and Richard Ho, who have been impressive while running unattached so far this season. He noted for that trend to continue this Friday as both will vie for the individual title and could challenge teammate Sergey Sushchikh’s course record of 24:05.
Both UCLA squads finished 27th at the prestigious Wisconsin adidas Invitational this past weekend. In the women’s 6K event, junior Kelsey Smith once again paced the Bruins. Smith finished 35th with a time of 20:27. On the men’s side sophomore Nick Hartle powered through the 10K with a 23:59 to finish 47th overall.
In the USTFCCCA polls the Bruin men are currently ranked eighth in the region while the women reside in 11th. The rankings come on the heels of week five of the cross country season.
The schedule quickly turns into championship season the next week for the Bruins. The Pac-12 Championships is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2, on the Coal Creek Golf Course in Louisville, Colo.