Saturday the Aggies risked. And it paid off.
The men were led by junior Arran Rogerson’s 25:34.2 clocking, good for fifth individually, as their depth helped them place a close second to Stanford University at the Doc Adams Open at the Putah Creek Reserve.
Head coach Drew Wartenburg planned for the meet to be a chance for the youth to get some experience, as the Aggies rested out a large part of the team.
The women ran solid efforts individually, despite not being able to score as a team.
“We were battling through sickness and some injuries on the women’s side,” Wartenburg said.
Only four Aggie women toed the starting line – and it takes five to score.
“[That] just added to the fear of racing and trying to represent our school the best we could,” said freshman Chelsea Mumby, who led the Aggies with her 16th place finish, running the 6k course in 23:36.6. “Being the younger ones on the team, we are always a little unsure of what to expect walking up to the line.”
But even without any real expectations, the women were able to get to work.
“[Freshman] Sam [Kearny, who finished 19th] and I decided that we would try and go out hard,” said Mumby, “pushing each other the whole way. We were within 20 seconds of each other, which I was pretty proud of.“
“For two of our frosh, it was a sizeable course PR (personal record) and seasonal PR,“ Wartenburg said.
And then there was Jenna Gaily.
Primarily an 800m and 1,500m runner, Saturday’s 6k was 7.5 and four times longer, respectively.
“It’s the first time she’s ever put on a singlet in an XC race. It was a big effort for her.“
Rogerson proved that the Aggies weren’t resting all the top men. Finishing behind only three Stanford runners and one from St. Mary’s College, he fought hard to run a season’s best. Not far behind, junior Tyler Rattray held on for a 10th-place finish in 25:43.1 for a solid 1-2 punch.
“One of the things we were talking about is taking a risk,” Wartenburg said. “Guys actually pushed the pace in spots. It sort of broke up the pack a bit, but at the same time in a good way.“
This led to the Aggies really having to communicate with each other mid-race. For freshman Chris Harland-Dunaway, this translated into butt slapping.
“I came up on Fed (Martinez),” said Harland-Dunaway, “and I saw him and I was like, ‘I want to go by him, but I want him to come with me.‘ So I slapped him on the butt.”
“It really got me back in the zone,” said Martinez. “It was time to work with him, time to go.“
Harland-Dunaway knows it’s all about the team.
“Just the communication – it’s comforting when you’re in a lot of discomfort. It’s just super helpful.… You don’t expect someone to hit your ass.“
Even those near the back gave it their all. Despite being sick, freshman Gregor Lloyd-Smith was able to dig deep, dropping three runners in the last mile – one from California State University, Sacramento, one from St. Mary’s, and one from Santa Clara University.
“No one outkicks me,” said Lloyd-Smith. “I don’t care who it is.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.