Cal Hosts Saint Mary's in Berkeley Firetrail Challenge

Sept. 1, 2003

BERKELEY -

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BEARS OPEN SEASON AT HOME VS. SAINT MARY'S: The California cross country teams open the 2003 season Saturday, Sept. 6, as host of the second-annual Berkeley Firetrail Challenge. The Golden Bears entertain Saint Mary's beginning with the women's three-mile race at 10:30 a.m., followed by the men's four-mile competition at 11 a.m. Both races take place on the fire trail, which begins above Memorial Stadium and ends at the Silver Space Research Center. The Cal men and women defeated San Jose State at last year's challenge, with the Bears' Martin Conrad and Bridget Duffy winning titles.

EXPERIENCED BEAR MEN LOOK TO MAKE THEIR MARK: The Cal men's squad is an experienced unit, returning five of seven runners who competed at the 2002 NCAA West Regional and seven of nine competitors from the 2002 Pac-10 Championships. The Bears' top three veterans are senior Carlos Carballo, redshirt junior Girmay Guangul and sophomore Kevin Davis. Carballo was Cal's top finisher at regionals in 21st place (31:21). Guangul redshirted the 2002 cross country season but set the school record in the 10,000 (29:17.78) in the spring. As a freshman in 2000, Guangul qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Junior college transfer Ozzie Pina and freshman David Torrence are likely to have the biggest impact among the newcomers.

CAL WOMEN RETURN CORE OF LAST YEAR'S TEAM: The Bear women return their top four runners from the 2002 NCAA West Regional and the 2002 Pac-10 Championships. Sophomore Bridget Duffy looks to lead Cal for the second straight year. In 2002, the Oakland product led the Bears in all five meets she competed in, including showings of 35th and 48th place at Pac-10s and regionals, respectively. Juniors Abby Parker and Lindsey Maclise, and redshirt sophomore Maja Ruznic also are key returners. Freshmen Christy Borak and Amanda Thornberry are expected to lead the newcomers.

BEARS EASILY DEFEAT MAXIMUM ATHLETIC CLUB: Cal defeated every runner from the Maximum Athletic Club Saturday morning in Reno, Nev. Giliat Ghebray and Abby Parker won the men's and women's races for the Bears.

2002 IN REVIEW: Cal showed improvement throughout the 2002 season, and there were indications that better things are to come in 2003. The Cal men's squad placed sixth after finishing eighth the year before at the Pac-10 Championships and were only one point behind fifth-place Washington State. The Cal women improved from ninth in 2001 to eighth in 2002 at Pac-10s. At the NCAA West Regional, the Bear men took 12th, while the women were 13th.

DID YOU KNOW?: Cal has built a reputation over the last several years of attracting up-and-coming East African runners to its program. This includes Bolota Asmerom, a 2000 Olympian and 2001 All-American originally from Eritrea, and his brother, Yonathan. The tradition has continued with the current Bears with Girmay Guangul (Ethiopia), Abadir Barre (Somalia) and Giliat Ghebray (Eritrea). Guangul hopes to attend medical school and return to Ethiopia to provide needed medical aid.

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