Cross country finishes middle of the pack at UCR

Men and women improve times, but neither team cracks top 10 in a crowded field.


Austin Green, Writer

After a wildly successful start to NCAA competition at the Biola Invitational on Sept. 9, the Eagles’ men’s and women’s cross country teams returned to action at the University of California Riverside Invitational on Sept. 16. The meet featured a much larger and more diverse group of competing schools, including Division I programs like the University of Alabama and familiar National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics foes such as The Master’s University.

Stiff competition

The tougher opposition pushed both Biola squads down to the middle of the team rankings even though several runners improved upon their initial times for this season. Overall, the Eagles placed 14th out of 29 teams in the final leaderboard.

One week after narrowly finishing behind junior Ryan Thompson for the top Eagles time in the men’s 8k, sophomore Gabe Plendcio beat out his teammates by a much wider margin this time around. His 25:04.6 time proved enough for 44th overall and 21st among non-DI runners.

Thompson, the only other Eagles runner to finish within the top 100, came in at 69th overall and 30th non-DI with a 25:23.9 time.

Familiar faces

The women competed in the 6k and 5k events. In the Eagles’ first 6k of the year, freshman Mackenna Mason continued her fantastic start to the season with a 21:17.4 time to finish 44th overall and 16th non-DI.

Other top 100 overall finishers for the Eagles included some more familiar faces. Senior Hannah Hunsaker came in right behind Mason with a 21:24.4 finish that netted her 47th place overall and 17th place non-DI. Fellow senior Stephanie Croy recorded a 21:51.2 time to place her 74th overall and 27th non-DI. Junior Emily Ransom rounded out the Eagles’ top times with a 22:07.2 mark, good for 94th overall and 37th non-DI.

In Biola’s last race of the day, junior Jessica Cody led all the Eagles’ runners in the women’s 5k with a 19:30.3 time to finish 74th overall and 58th non-DI. Fellow junior Melissa Ledesma finished 80th overall and 66th non-DI with a 19:37.4 time. Both Cody and Ledesma shaved over 10 seconds off their previous 5k times this season.

The Eagles get next weekend off before returning to Master’s for The Mustang Challenge on Sept. 28 in Santa Clarita, Calif.

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