The UC Davis cross country team has wasted no time finding success this season on both the men’s and women’s sides.
The Aggies‘ first meet, the USF Invitational, resulted in sixth and third place finishes for the men and women’s teams respectively.
“We split our squad and sat probably the top half on both sides,” said coach Drew Wartenburg. “That was a meet to allow some of the newcomers and a few returners to get their feet wet early.“
On the women’s side, sophomore Kristina Taylor paced UC Davis in the 5K race finishing in 10th place. All five of the Aggies‘ times that counted were in the top 25 of the field.
The men were paced in the 8K by sophomore Gregor Lloyd-Smith who posted a time of 26:20.60, earning him a 26th place finish.
After the USF Invitational, both the men’s and women’s squads claimed first place at the Hornet Jamboree hosted by Sacramento State.
Led by Jon Peterson and Russ Pfaff who finished first and second respectively, UC Davis claimed six of the top ten spots in the four-mile race on its way to a total score of 23 and the team victory.
The women’s score of 34 in the 5K easily won in Sacramento. Sophomores Abbey Gallaher and Sarah Sumpter claimed second and third place. With Ali Stoakly and Krista Drechsler also placing in the top ten, the Aggies claimed the dual victory with ease.
Both the men’s and women’s teams are in their second year under coach Drew Wartenburg and are young, with the only senior on each squad as the team captain.
“The men’s side is definitely buoyed by the return of Jon Peterson, who redshirted last fall,” Wartenburg said. “Russ Pfaff had a monster spring in track. Those two along with a transfer we had come in named Matt Sartori are really pulling the weight up front on the men’s side.“
The women’s side lost its two strongest runners from the 2008 squad in graduates Kaitlin Gregg and Kim Conley.
Fortunately for Wartenburg and all the returning runners on both teams, Conley has stayed on as an assistant coach.
“The women’s side is an interesting dynamic having lost both Kim and Kaitlin,” Wartenburg said. “It’s a very young group which is exciting because we’re running well and there’s a lot of development yet to be done.“
Though both sides have experienced success early in the 2009 campaign, Wartenburg is looking ahead to Saturday’s Stanford Invitational and beyond as the true litmus test of his teams.
“The Stanford Invite in terms of size is a large meet,” Wartenburg said. “It’s our first foray into some serious competition. You look at late September through the end of October as when you really try to hit two meets of emphasis and this would be one.“
Conley echoes Wartenburg’s sentiment about the importance of performing well at the Stanford Invitational calling the meet the first big test of the season.
After Stanford, the Aggies return to Davis to host the Doc Adams Open on Saturday, Oct. 3.
This year, the cross country program has introduced a new wrinkle to the annual event.
“What we’ve added this year is a community race open to folks who are young runners, hobby joggers or what have you,” Wartenburg said. “This will allow the community to come out and run on the cross country course, which is typically closed to the public. We hope to forge some kind of link between them and our program. It can be a lonely sport.“
As of late it hasn’t been too lonely for the Aggies as they placed ten total runners in the men’s and women’s races at the Hornet Jamboree.
JOHN S. HELLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.