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Kelsey Smith was the highest women's finisher for the Bruins since 2005. (Photo by Cliff Grassmick)
UCLA Cross Country Heads to NCAA West Regional Championships
By: UCLA Athletics


LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to the Haggin Oaks Golf Course in Sacramento, Calif., to compete in the NCAA West Regional Championships, hosted by Sacramento State on Friday, Nov. 15. The men will start the meet off with a 10k at 10:30 a.m. PT, and be followed by the women’s 6k at 11:45 a.m.

“Everything we have been working towards all season is coming to a peak this Friday," Coach Forest Braden said. "We are very close to breaking through and reaching the potential we have had all season. This is a motivated group of men and women ready for the task at hand. If we run with confidence and poise out there on Friday it will be a very good day for us. The last two weeks of work have been very good and I expect the crew to be ready when they toe the line.”

The meet, that will decide who advances to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Championships, features 31 teams on the men’s side and 37 for the women. Five men’s teams are ranked nationally in the latest USTFCCCA poll while seven are ranked in the women’s race, including No. 1 Arizona.

The Bruins return to the Haggin Oaks Golf Course, having tackled the terrain earlier in the season in the Inter-Region Jamboree that was held on Oct. 4. The UCLA men’s and women’s teams won the event, outdistancing a talented field.

The 10k course is three loops (3,333 meter loop) while the women’s 6k is 2 loops (3,000 meter loop). The course utilizes long straight fairway running over nine holes with four gradual, wide-sweeping turns.

“Nick has been better each week and he is ready to let loose and see what he can do over 10k," Coach Braden said. "He’s not scared of anyone. Kelsey and Annie are as good of a 1-2 punch as any team in this race. The energy and desire they bring to each race is inspiring and I am looking forward to seeing them roll again in Sacramento. We have three fifth-year seniors on the trip with us that are looking to keep their careers alive, so don’t count these guys out.”

Sergey Sushchickh paced the Bruin men on the 8k course with a third place finish in a time of 23:35. Kelsey Smith led the women in the 5k, also finishing third with a time of 16:40.

The UCLA men enter the NCAA Cross Country West Regional ranked ninth in the region by the USTFCCCA. The Bruins are coming off a seventh place finish at the Pac-12 championships, held in Louisville, Colo., on Nov. 2. UCLA had two runners finish in the top-25 as Nick Hartle finished 14th overall and Daniel Herrera placed 23rd. Hartle has paced the Bruins at the two biggest meets on the schedule thus far as the sophomore placed 47th overall at the prestigious Wisconsin adidas Invite on Oct. 19.

The UCLA women enter the NCAA Cross Country West Regional ranked ninth in the region by the USTFCCCA. The Bruin women are also coming off a seventh place finish at the Pac-12 Championships. UCLA had two runners finish in the top-25 as Smith placed seventh overall and Annie Moonie finished 18th. Smith’s seventh place finish was the highest for a Bruin harrier since Ashley Caldwell placed fourth overall in 2005. Smith has paced UCLA in every race she has competed in in 2013.

The top two teams in each region will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, with the remaining slots in the championships field filled by at-large qualifiers. The championship will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23, on the Indiana State University LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.

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