SAN FRANCISCO — Santa Clara cross country raced in competition for the first time in the 2018 season on Saturday morning at the USF Invitational. The men's team took third place of eight teams in the 8-kilometer race and the women's team finished in ninth place of ten teams in the 6-kilometer run at Golden Gate Park's Hellman Hollow Meadow.
Zach Litoff topped the men's team with an eighth-place finish in 25:09.7 and Emma McCurry took 30th place with a personal-best 22:47.9 to lead the women. The men finished in the meet's top three for the second time in as many seasons, after taking second place in 2017.
Santa Clara placed three in the top 10 overall; freshman Jorge Estrella took ninth place overall in his Bronco debut with a 25:11 and Xander Olivero crossed the line in 10th place with a 25:13.22. Aaron Brumbaugh (20th – 25:29.84) and Evan Misuraca (22nd – 25:31.67) rounded out the Bronco scoring unit.
SCU (68 points) finished only three points behind Stanford (65), while besting meet host San Francisco (84 - fourth place) and San José State (95 - fifth place); the Dons and Spartans were ranked in the NCAA West Region's preseason poll at eighth and 11th, respectively. The Broncos were unranked in the year's first poll.
Cal's Garrett Corcoran won the race with a 24:31.20 and the Golden Bears (37) had four of the top seven finishers in the team victory.
"I'm very pleased with our first look at the guys in a competitive environment," head coach Felipe Montoro said. "I felt like we were engaged in the race and in control. That showed in our 21-second spread between our top five. There was a great mix of youth and experience in the scoring group."
The Broncos raced without top returner Jack Davidson, who is expected to return to the lineup early in the season; he owns the third-fastest 8-kilometer time in program history.
James Konugres (24th – 25:40.4), Ben Davidson (25th – 25:41.4), Christian Raslowsky (40th – 26:17.1), Brennan Lagerstrom (45th – 26:33.8), John O'Hagan (49th – 26:44.0), Aditya Mohan (52nd – 26:48.8), Wilder Boyden (54th – 26:51.7), Austin Blankenship (55th – 26:53.4), Luke Davies (66th – 27:56.4) made up the rest of the men's team.
Janie Nabholz (52nd – 23:41.2), Claire Cocales (53rd – 23:45.3 in her Bronco debut), Carolina Avelar (54th – personal best 23:47.3), Ellie Kopf (55th – 23:52.7), Bevin McCullough (59th – 23:57.3), Cecilia Avelar (60th – personal best 23:58.2), Marisa Sanchez (66th – 24:27.2), Kayla Neumann (67th – 24:29.6 in her Bronco debut) also competed in the season-opening contest.
Three Stanford runners crossed the finish line at just about the same time, led by Christina Aragon (21:17.3), and the Cardinal had all five scorers in the top 10 for 24 points.
"The girls packed and paced well today," associate head coach Pete Cushman said. "We're disappointed in our team finish, but there's a long season ahead and definitely some things we can work on. I think we have some positives that we can build on and I know the team can be a lot better."
The Broncos get a taste of altitude at the BYU Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 15 in Provo, Utah. That is also the site of this year's West Coast Conference championships.
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