San Jose, Calif. – Following a four-week hiatus from competition, the San José State men’s and women’s cross country teams begin a three-week stretch in which they will race three times. It starts Saturday morning in Palo Alto, Calif., at the Stanford Invitational.
|Date||Saturday, October 1, 2016|
|Site||Stanford Golf Course|
|Women (6k) – 9:50 a.m.
Men (8k) – 10:30 a.m.
“We’ve gotten in some very good workouts in the past three weeks,” said head coach Brad Wick. “They indicate that we are a much better team than we were a year ago at this time and the Stanford invite will give us a chance to show it. From positions one-to-five on both teams, we are better than we were a year ago. That should translate to a big chunk of points off our score from previous performances.
“We’re chomping at the bit and our athletes are getting a little antsy to compete. We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work, but at the same time (having four weeks without competing) keeps them hungry and when we get to the end of the year they feel like they are just getting going, which is a good thing. They feel like they are just getting into a grove and are hungry to compete. That is how we want our athletes to feel.”
After the men’s team finished third and the women came in fourth at the San Francisco Cross Country Invitational (9/3/16) to open the season, the Spartans seven men and seven women runners are ready to compete at Stanford.
The men’s team, which currently ranks 14th in the West Region of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), are led by triumvirate of athletes. Senior Ben Branagh, who finished fourth in San Francisco, sophomore Jose Piña (10th) and junior Josue Gonzalez (12th). Joining them at Stanford will be juniors Craig Huff and Huruy Zeratsion, freshman Evaristo Mateo and senior Raul Rodarte.
“Our top three will continue to be front-runners,” said coach Wick. “The big difference will come from our number four-to seven runners. Raul and Craig and Huruy are in a much better place, competition wise, than they were four weeks ago. They are ready to close the gap between the top-three. Their success will be the deciding factor in seeing if we can close the gap with teams like Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, as well as the other good programs in California. We are ready to run with them and it will be fun to see how we stack up.”
The women’s team, which ranked 15th in the West Region, after the opening week of competition, are led by freshman Jennifer Sandoval who finished in fifth place in San Francisco. Joining Sandoval are sophomores Janette Zambrano (24th at San Francisco), Adilene Aldapa (33rd) and Ashley Cahalan (53rd), freshmen Jacqueline Escalera (37th) and Camilla Hanson (41st) and senior Karnia Nunez (34th).
“The ladies are in a similar situation to our men’s team in that this week will be a test to see if we can close some of the gaps we had at USF,” said coach Wick. “Training wise we should definitely be much, much closer together. From what I’ve seen I expect Jennette, Karina and Adilene to test new waters as far as their conditioning goes.
“We have a lot of youth on the team and a lot of them are figuring out where they stack up against the competition at this level. The more they compete the more they will feel confident that they belong, trust in their training, can get in a good position and have success.
“For the team, coming into this weekend we’re just four weeks away from the conference meet, which puts into a good position. Each competition at this point and each practice is an indicator of how we are doing. Everything we do is pointed toward the Bronco Invite in two weeks and the conference championship meet in Boise, three weeks from now. We want to feel more prepared each week.”