Spartans Take Sixth At Pepperdine Invitational

Malibu, Calif. -- The San Jose State University women’s cross country team took sixth place in the 12-team Pepperdine Invitational on September 22. Led by Erica Sahli’s ninth-place finish, the Spartans finished just ahead of conference rival Fresno State.

Running in its fifth 6K race in four years, San Jose State placed three runners in the top-30. Led by a strong showing from Sahli, Arely Marquez, Marlene Elizalde, and Jenna Hicks, the Spartans overcame their inexperience at running 6K races and finished ahead of Pac-10 power UCLA.

Head coach Augie Argabright was pleased with the outcome, saying, “It was a great race. We don’t normally run 6K’s, so I was happy with our performance.”

Sahli, a two-time All-WAC selection, set the tone for the team when she eclipsed her personal-best 6K time by over two minutes, finishing with a time of 21:05.24. It was her 10th top-10 finish in her career. This was the second consecutive meet the senior co-captain has been the top Spartan finisher.

In her second collegiate race, Marquez followed her strong 15th-place showing at the USF Invitational with a 23rd-place effort in a time of 21:40.40. On the strong start by the freshman, Argabright said, “She ran great, especially because it was only her second race and her first 6K. I’m really excited to see how well she is doing.”

With a time of 21:49.55, Elizalde also set a new 6K personal best by 1:29 to take 28th place. Less than a second behind Elizalde and 0.47 seconds ahead of another runner, Jenna Hicks took 29th place with a time of 21:50.21, a career best by over two minutes.

Overall, seven San Jose State runners set career-best 6K times. On the strong start to the 2007 season, Argabright added, “This is the best team we have ever had. The competition at practice is making everyone run so much better.”

In the team competition, Cal State L.A. placed first. Cal State Fullerton and the University of Southern California rounded out the top three. Freshman Sarah Cocco of USC took the individual competition with a time of 20:00.00.

The next race for the Spartans will be the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., on Friday, September 28. In 2006, the Spartans finished sixth out of 24 in their first appearance at the Notre Dame Invitational.

Pepperdine Cross Country Invitational
Alumni Park, Malibu, Calif.

Team scores: 1. Cal State L.A., 64. 2. Cal State Fullerton, 68. 3. USC, 75. 4. Xavier, 103. 5. Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, 120. 6. SJSU, 126. 7. Fresno State, 130. 8. UCLA, 177. 9. Pacific, 280. 10. Cal State Northridge, 298.  11. Pepperdine, 330.  12. Christian Brothers University, 368.

Top finishers: 1. Sarah Cocco (USC) 20:00.00. 2. Karla Alburez (CSULA) 20:18.10. 3. Zsofia Erdelyi (USC) 20:29.85. 4. Becky Clark (Xavier) 20:46.88. 5. Christina Schneider (Xavier) 20:53.72.

SJSU finishers:
9. Erica Sahli, 21:05.24. 23. Arely Marquez, 21:37.83. 28. Marlene Elizalde, 21:50.21. 29. Jenna Hicks, 21:50.21. 37. Nisha Richardson, 22:02.14.  45. Jessica Gonzales, 22:30.40. 54. Lauren Dubay, 22:50.56. 65. Meaghan Vinton, 23:21.39. 76. Annaliza Rizo, 23:49.73. 78. Brooke Lawrence, 23:50.69. 81. Jacqueline Turner, 23:52.86. 92. Lindsay Bryant, 24:44.72. 94. Morgan Hancock, 24.58.81. 96. Suzanne Hancock, 25:05.87. `