First-year head coach Drew Wartenburg knows he has a pair of experienced seniors capable of leading the way, but he doesn’t want the UC Davis men’s cross country team to depend on either of them.
“We’ll expect leadership out of Patrick [Parsel] and K.C. [Cody],” Wartenburg said. “But coming out of camp we talked about not just having just one go-to runner, but having the ability to have any member of the team ready to step up and lead on any given day.”
UC Davis’ mix of experience and young talent helped it get off to a fast start in its first appearance of the 2008 season. Both the men’s and women’s teams claimed first-place honors at the Aggie Open on Sept. 6.
Senior captain Kim Conley and Parsel won the women’s 6k and men’s 8k races, respectively.
“There’s really no surprise in those results,” Wartenburg said. “It’s a good starting point for us.… I was happy our freshmen got some good experience.”
UC Davis stuck with the theme of getting its young competitors more experience at the Hornet Jamboree on Sept. 13. The Aggie men finished in second place, while the women’s team posted a sixth-place showing.
“We sat nine guys [at the Hornet Jamboree],” Wartenburg said. “We’re going to count on some of these runners down the stretch of our season, and wanted to get them in a race situation where they have to run up front and lead the team.”
UC Davis then competed at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, Wash. on Saturday. The Aggie women and men finished in second and fourth place, respectively.
Conley and senior Kaitlin Gregg finished in the top 10 of the women’s 6k. First-years Kristin Arkin, Abbey Gallaher and Krista Drechsler rounded out the Aggie scoring.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better race from the women,” Wartenburg said. “It’s not at all surprising that our freshmen finished as well as they did. They’ve been working together and quickly learning. That will really help us down the stretch this season.”
The men’s team was led by Cody’s 11th-place showing in the 8k. It was Cody’s first collegiate cross country race since 2006, as the men’s captain redshirted a season ago. Parsel finished in 20th.
“We definitely have some work to do, but the positive we take away from the men’s race was that our top five finishers were just over 30 seconds apart,” Wartenburg said. “We just need to work on finishing a little higher up.”
The Aggies next compete at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday. The team then returns to Davis to host the Doc Adams Invitational on Oct. 4.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN can be reached at email@example.com