The men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Palo Alto, Calif. Saturday to compete in the Stanford Invitational – a highly regarded meet and a destination point for many top-notch teams in the nation.
Seventh place was the result from each squad, and there were a select few runners that were highlights in the Aggies’ statistics, but head coach Drew Wartenburg is ready to take his teams back to Davis to work out the kinks.
“We’ve got to come back home and get better,” he said. “Everyone goes home now and says ‘ok, we’ve been to a major invitational meet,’ but coaches up and down the region are going to ask [themselves] how to address the weak points.”
It was a competitive field in the men’s division, as the Aggies faced, among others, regional powerhouses Stanford, Cal and UCLA.
One goal the Aggies had entering meet was to beat a team that on paper, they were not “supposed” to beat.
That goal would go unaccomplished this time around.
UC Davis placed 7th, and according to Wartenburg and the statistics, this was right about where the team had expected to finish.
In fact, the men’s race featured no upsets and no surprises. Stanford finished on top and was followed by Arkansas and Northern Arizona.
“We’ll take it in a competitive field of that nature,” Wartenburg said. “It’s early in the season, and we have a lot of weeks to get better.”
Leading the pack for the Aggie men in the 8K was sixth place finisher Jonathan Peterson, followed by teammate Jonathan Sees (32nd place) and Calvin Thigpen (36th place).
The women’s field was slightly less competitive, and the Aggies missed a chance to beat a handful of teams that Wartenburg believed were beatable.
Stanford won the division, while Cal took second and Long Beach State placed third.
UC Davis finishers ranged from 6th to 42nd, creating too large a gap to work in their favor.
Additionally, there was roughly a 90-second space between the Aggies’ first and second runners – another area that Wartenburg’s group will focus on for the next meet.
Despite the missed opportunities, however, one solid athlete in the women’s department was sixth place finisher Krista Drechsler, a true junior from Santa Barbara, Calif.
“Krista was a real bright spot in terms of individual effort,” Wartenburg said. “She raced as well as she’s raced in her time in an Aggie uniform.”
The next meet for the Aggies will be on Oct. 16 when the teams travel to Santa Clara.
Wartenburg’s crew will focus on a “pack racing” strategy in order to achieve better team numbers in that meet.
“We kind of got strung out [Saturday],” he commented after the races. “We need to get our guys to bite down and hang on and run with a teammate.”
The Santa Clara meet will provide UC Davis with a different taste and different competition, along with an opportunity to focus on team goals, regardless of who else is competing.
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.