With over half of the season in the books, both the men and women’s cross country teams have seen up-and-down performances. In the first race of the year, each team defeated nearby rival Sacramento State. Since then, the performances have been far more varied.
After winning the meet against Sac State, the women’s cross country team travelled to the West Coast Conference Preview held in Sunnyvale, Calif. The Aggies placed a middling sixth place out of 11 teams. Still, UC Davis had three runners finish in the top 20, led by sophomore Clara Macleod, who ran the 6-kilometer course in 21:35.
The next race, the 41st Annual Stanford Invitational, saw the women’s team finish in second place overall. The Aggies were able to best Cal Poly and Loyola Marymount just two weeks after falling to them at the WCC Preview. UC Davis was led by junior Christine Hoffman, who finished in seventh individually. Two other Aggies finished in the top 20.
On Oct. 18, the UC Davis team split up to compete in the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational and the NCAA Pre-Nationals. As a team, the Aggies failed to make a strong appearance at the Pre-Nationals meet, finishing 28th out of a 43-team field. Only Hoffman was able to finish inside of the top 100 racers, completing the race in 17th place overall.
The Santa Clara Bronco Invitational had the same result, as neither freshman Elizabeth Greif nor sophomore Kazune Shidara placed within the top 40. Greif and Shidara finished in 45th and 64th place, respectively.
While the team has failed to place well in several races this season, Hoffman has been a bright spot for the Aggies. The junior has finished first out of all UC Davis runners in all of the meets that she has participated in, completing the race a full minute ahead of the second Aggie to cross the finish line at the NCAA Pre-Nationals. None of this should be surprising of Hoffman, seeing that she finished 16th last year in the Big West Championships.
Meanwhile, the UC Davis men’s cross country team has also remained competitive throughout the season. At the WCC Preview, the Aggies came in fourth place, buoyed by a 15th-place finish from sophomore Austin Goins. Only one other UC Davis runner was able to finish inside of the top 25, but consistent, solid running gave the team a solid finish.
While the women’s team dominated at the Stanford Invitational, the men’s squad faltered and finished in last place. Junior Brandon Pugh was the lone Aggie to finish in the top 50, coming in at 13th place. Pugh finished a full 44 seconds ahead of the next UC Davis runner to cross the finish line.
In their most recent race, the men’s team also split up to take on the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational and the NCAA Pre-Nationals. At the Pre-Nationals, UC Davis was able to finish in 13th place out of 28 teams, largely thanks to Pugh and junior Nick Ratto, who finished in 29th and 34th, respectively.
The Aggies also sent six runners to Santa Clara, but none were able to finish before junior Eric Neill rolled in for 86th place.
Pugh has been the best runner for the Aggies throughout the season, finishing in first place for the team in all of the races that he participated in. Last season, the junior was a member of the All-Big West Conference team and finished in third place at the Big West Championships.
With much of the season behind them, the Aggies have the Big West Conference Championships on Nov. 1 before turning to the NCAA West Regionals on Nov. 14.