Racing against 2008 Olympic 10,000m runner Galen Rupp and a plethora of All-Americans from all over the West, the Aggies were able to place a respectable 11th at the NCAA Western Regional Championships.
“We’ve been 11th two years in a row,” said head coach Drew Wartenburg. “Eleventh this year was probably a taller order; it was probably a better accomplishment than getting 11th last year. There was a lot more depth at the top of the field.“
Two of those teams near the top were Big West Conference rivals Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.
“We were a spot or two off where we would have liked to be, obviously,” Wartenburg said. “Getting beat by Santa Barbara, being a spot back, is tough.“
Again leading the Aggies was senior captain K.C. Cody, who finished 40th in the 10k race in 30:21.69. Cody’s finish is the highest ever by an Aggie at the regional meet. The previous record was 43rd by Jonathan Peterson, who is redshirting this season.
“After conference, it was vindicating to get back up to the level I was competing at throughout the season, but ultimately still not enough,” Cody said. “Breaking up Cal Poly’s top three, after not even breaking up their top five two weeks ago, was especially good.“
Placing second and third for the Aggies were sophomores Russ Pfaff and Calvin Thigpen, finishing 49th and 65th, respectively.
“Our first three had great races,” Wartenburg said. “Russ did not have the uninterrupted training early season. He was a bit dinged up, but Russ is a guy who on the day of the meet runs through it when he’s needed. He ran the best race of his season today.
“Calvin has been probably the most consistent guy all this season. He’s a 3-4-5 guy. He ran a patient, steady race today.“ Though only seven runners toed the line, the course was filled with Aggie pride. Over 30 teammates and fans (and one cow), painted head to toe in Aggie blue and gold raced around the course to cheer on UC Davis.
“The Aggie Nation was what pulled me through,” Pfaff said. “I couldn’t have ran as well without the support of my teammates and I will have great Aggie memories because of them.“
For seniors Cody, Patrick Parsel and Keli Parker, these will be their last such memories – at least from cross country. All three will be coming back this spring to compete on the track.
“Focus turns to taking time off and basically all attention goes to track here in a few weeks,” Wartenburg said. “Lots to look forward indoors and outdoors in track, but not right away. But in due time.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at email@example.com.