Saturday was the day for the Aggies to learn how to race on the national stage. While there, they met – and beat – teams from all over the country.
Finishing 23rd in the “White” race, the Aggies beat teams such as Texas, Colorado State and Cincinnati. Although they raced in the separate “Blue” race, the Aggies ran a much faster team-time than Big West Conference members UC Irvine and UC Riverside.
“We went in hoping to come away with a valuable learning experience,” said head coach Drew Wartenburg. “We definitely did just that. The trip was very much worth it.“
Leading the way for the Aggies was senior captain K.C. Cody, who was the lone Aggie to break the top 100, finishing 73rd in 24:41.1 for the 8k course.
Second on the team was sophomore Russ Pfaff, placing 119th in 25:03.2.
“Russ definitely had his best race of the year,” Wartenburg said.
Though UC Davis left having had a good showing in Indiana, the results weren’t quite what the team had hoped for.
“It would have been great to be in the top half of the field – top 20 or above,” Wartenburg said. “They finished 23rd, which is probably a realistic indication of where we are.”
Finishing 22nd was Big West rival UC Santa Barbara, outscoring the Aggies by a mere 15 points, 634-649.
“We got UC Santa Barbara right in our sites for conference,” Wartenburg said. “Cal Poly clearly identified themselves as the class of the Big West, but after that it’s pretty wide open. Riverside, Irvine, Santa Barbara and us are in a dogfight for 2nd place team honors.“
Considering UC Riverside and UC Irvine ran about a minute and a half slower as a team than the Aggies, things look good for the Big West Championship in two weeks.
UC Davis, however, has a weakness to overcome.
“A big weakness on the men’s side is we don’t have a true frontrunner who’s gonna go out and be in the mix in a big race like that,” Wartenburg said. “That’s not anybody’s fault, but we don’t have that element in our mix. We live and die by pack running.“
In addition to racing at Pre-Nationals, the younger Aggies stayed on the West Coast for the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational. Led by junior Arran Rogerson for the second time in as many meets, the team posted a fifth-place finish.
In addition to Rogerson’s 22nd place showing in 25:24, two other Aggies cracked the top 35; sophomore Andy Peabody finished 25th in 25:27 and junior Tyler Rattray finished 33rd in 25:34. All three ran impressive races to beat the winner of the Oct. 4 Doc Adams Invite, Mario Mendoza of St. Mary’s.
Next up for the Aggies is the Big West Championships in two weeks, which will be held at UC Riverside. Until then, the Aggies will enjoy the chance to get in some quality training.
“It will be good this week to regroup and figure out who makes the travel squad for conference,” Wartenburg said. “The key is to refocus for Big West.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at email@example.com.