UCLA Women's Varsity Cross Country Ranked No. 18 In U. S.
Oct. 9, 2001
UCLA cross country head coach Eric Peterson on Saturday (Oct. 13) will send the Bruin women's varsity, ranked No. 18 in the U. S., and UCLA's men's senior top runner, Bryan Green, to the NCAA Preview Meet at Greenville, SC and hosted by Furman University. The 6000m women's and the 8000m men's races will begin at 7:45 a.m. PST.
The meet will attract the nation's top teams because the course, the Furman University Golf Course, will also be the site of the upcoming 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday, Nov. 19.
UCLA's women's team, ranked No. 18 in the U. S. for the second consecutive week, is hoping to earn an at-large berth to this year's national meet. Under Peterson, the Bruin women last advanced as a team to the NCAA meet in 1998 and '99. The Bruin men's team chances suffered a serious setback two weeks ago, when top sophomore runner Jon Rankin was diagnosed with a low-grade right leg stress reaction and will miss the remainder of the cross country season. Last summer, Rankin won the U. S. Junior 1500m title.
Being in the Pacific-10, the Bruins are in one of the toughest cross country conferences in the U. S. In this week's women's Top 25 national rankings, Stanford is No. 2, followed by No. 4 (tied) Arizona State, No. 9 Arizona, No. 16 Washington and No. 18 UCLA. In the men's division, Stanford is again No. 2, followed by No. 15 Arizona State, No. 18 Oregon and No. 24 Arizona, with Washington receiving votes.
Although the Bruin women do not have a senior on their roster, UCLA's success this season has come from young and talented competitors. The Bruins' top runner has been true freshman Alejandro Barrientos, a Track & Field News prep All-American who during her high school days at San Lorenzo Valley in Felton was a CA State Cross Country champion and Footlocker National participant. She has been UCLA's No. 1 finisher at every major meet this season - fifth at CS Fullerton Jammin' Invite on Sept. 1 (17:54.1, 5000m), third at the Sundodger Invite in Seattle on Sept. 22 (17:16.00, 5000m) and 21st at the Griak Invite in Minneapolis on Sept. 29 (21.27.6, 6000m).
In Greenville, Barrientos will be joined by junior Elaine Canchola, sophomores, Valerie Flores and Jessica Marr, along with freshmen Carolyn Shea, Carmen Winant and Lori Mann. Shea, from Waterville, ME HS, led the Bruin women's 'B' squad last Friday (Oct. 5) at the Arizona State Invite in Gilbert, AZ. She placed seventh (18:53.00) over the 5000m course, leading the Bruins to a second-place team finish.
'We're looking forward to this meet,' said Peterson, in his eighth season coaching the Bruin women. 'We've had one-and-a-half weeks of great workouts. Running well in Greenville will help to strengthen our position for getting an NCAA at-large bid. We are a young team, and meets like this are so helpful in turning young runners into a strong team.
'If we are successful this weekend,' he said, 'it puts us in a great spot heading into the Pac-10 and NCAA Western Region Qualifying meets.'
On the men's side, the Bruins' lone entry is Green, who has established himself as one of the top runners on the West Coast. From Littlerock HS in Palmdale, as a junior last year he placed in the Top 10 of every regular season meet and qualified for the 2000 NCAA Championships as an individual. This season, he placed fifth (24:49.2, 8000m) at the Fullerton meet and won the Sundodger Invite in a time of 24:11.00 (8000m). He's currently recovering from a respiratory infection and was only able to place 150th (25:42.6) at the Griak Invite.
'Bryan has been sick and it was a tough effort on his part to race at the Griak,' said Peterson, in his second season of coaching both the UCLA men and women's squads. 'He's feeling better and this race should be a good competitive experience for him. With his confidence restored, Bryan will be ready for these upcoming postseason meets.'
Looking ahead, the Bruins will compete on Friday, Oct. 19 at the CS Fullerton Invitational. Then the next three meets will provide the Bruins championship caliber competition - Oct. 27 at Pac-10 Championships (Scottsdale, AZ), Nov. 10 at NCAA West Region Qualifying (Tucson, AZ) and Nov. 19 at the 2001 NCAA Championships (Greenville, SC).
2001 UCLA WOMEN'S/MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY SCHEDULE/ RESULTSSat., Sept. 1 at CS Fullerton Invitational (women, 2nd/men, 3rd)Sat., Sept. 8 at UC Irvine Invitational (UCLA 'B' Teams - women, 5th/men, 10th)Sat., Sept. 22 at Sundodger Invitational (Seattle, WA)(women 2nd/men 3rd)Sat., Sept. 29 at Roy Griak Invitational (Minneapolis, MN)(women 8th/men 30th)Fri., Oct. 5 at Arizona State Invitational (women 2nd/men 2nd)Sat., Oct. 13 at NCAA Preview Meet (Greenville, SC)Fri., Oct. 19 at CS Fullerton InvitationalSat., Oct. 27 at Pacific-10 Championship (Tempe, AZ)Sat., Nov. 10 at NCAA West Region Qualifying (Tucson, AZ)Mon., Nov. 19 at NCAA Championship (Greenville, SC)