Saturday’s Stanford Invitational gave the UC Davis men’s and women’s cross country team its first chance to see how it stacked up against Big West Conference foes.
The Aggies liked what they saw.
Senior Kim Conley paced the women’s team to a second-place showing in the 33-team field. The Montgomery High School graduate finished third in the women’s 6k with a time of 21:12.
“It’s a big step for the women’s team,” head coach Drew Wartenburg said. “This is the result we wanted, but it’s coming together a lot faster than we thought.… We’re just running consistently on a weekly basis now.“
Conley has finished in the top five in each of her three meets this season. Senior Kaitlin Gregg was the No. 2 Aggie finisher, as her time of 21:44 was good for 13th place.
Freshmen Abbey Gallaher and Krista Drechsler also placed in the top 25, finishing 20th (22:01) and 24th (22:08), respectively.
UC Davis also had success on the men’s side, finishing in seventh place against a strong field of competitors.
“We took positive steps on the men’s side as well,” Wartenburg said. “We just lost to some really good teams.… On both sides, we take away a lot of stuff that was positive that we can go back and build some confidence about as the season progresses.“
Seniors Patrick Parsel and K.C. Cody led the way for the Aggies, posting 8k times of 25:38 and 26:45 to finish in 38th and 42nd place, respectively.
Sophomore Calvin Thigpen also broke into the top 50, as his time of 25:49 was good for 48th.
“We had our top five guys stumble in the first 100 yards of the race and that makes things tough,” Wartenburg said. “We were able to come back and finish well.“
The Aggies come home to host the Doc Adams Invitational at the Putah Creek Cross Country Course on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Wartenburg said everyone who raced at Stanford would be rested, giving UC Davis the opportunity to further test its youth and depth.
“That gives us a chance on the women’s side to use a really young group, primarily frosh,” he said. “On the men’s side, where we definitely have a little more depth, it gives some guys who didn’t get a chance to race [at Stanford] to step up and improve themselves.“
Wartenburg added that the improvement he hopes to see would be tested shortly.
“The next really big test for us,” he said, “will be in three weeks when we go out to Indiana to run the Pre-Nationals.“
ADAM LOBERSTEIN can be reached at email@example.com.