Cocco's Win Leads USC To A Fourth-Place Finish At The Aztec Invitational

Sept. 15, 2007

SAN DIEGO - Freshman Sarah Cocco is a theater major at USC and she demonstrated her flair for the dramatic today (Sept. 15) in her first meet as a Trojan, passing LMU's Laura Mickelson in last 10 meters to win the 63rd Annual Aztec Invitational in San Diego. Cocco led USC's cross country team to a fourth-place finish in the team competition, finishing behind No. 4 Arkansas, UCSB (No. 5 in the West Region) and Northern Arizona (No. 8 in the Mountain Region).

Cocco trailed by about 100 meters with a 800 meters to go in the race and by nearly 30 meters with under 100 meters to go, but used her 800m speed to track down her opponent and get her USC career off to a memorable start. Cocco finished third in the 800m at the USA Junior Track and Field Championships held this summer and represented USA at the Pan American Junior Athletic Championships.

The freshman from Boulder, Colo. had a winning time of 17:43 on the 5K course and became the first Trojan to win a cross country event since Iryna Vashchuk won the UC San Diego Invitational (6K) on Oct. 11, 2003. Vashchuk also was making her Trojan debut on that day. The last USC runner to have a faster cross country 5K time than Cocco's was Grazyna Penc who ran a 17:14 time at the NCAA West Regional on Nov. 14, 1998.

'Our goal as a team was a top-five finish and I'm really pleased with our fourth-place finish,' said USC cross country coach Tom Walsh. 'As a team we ran a good race, not a great race. Our goal is to peak at the end of the season and we are well on our way. We just need to get six or seven girls finishing close together.'

'It was an awesome start for Sarah Cocco,' added Walsh. 'Her training has been going really well and she has been working really hard and is only scratching her potential at the middle and long distances.'

Also making their Trojan debuts in the meet were freshman Zsofia Erdelyi who placed 13th with a time of 18:13 and senior transfer Laura Meyers who placed 34th with a time of 19:04, second and fourth among Trojan runners. Erdelyi is a highly-touted runner from Hungary and Meyers is a two-time NCAA cross country qualifier that helped lead her former school Columbia to three-straight Ivy League Championships.

Sophomore Bridget Helgerson, who led Trojan runners two weeks ago with a PR of 18:37.50 at the CS Fullerton Season Opener, was USC's third finisher and 29th overall with a time of 19:01.

USC's fifth scoring runner was sophomore Chanel Fischetti who placed 50th with a time of 19:31, her fastest time as a Trojan.

The Trojans' sixth and seventh place finishers respectively were junior transfer Taylor Carroll (19:56) and freshman Brianna Bentley (20:02). Bentley's time was a second better than her first race as a Trojan.

Also running for USC but not figuring in the scoring were freshman Zara Lukens (20:06) and sophomore Jennifer Wells (20:33).

The USC women's cross country team will compete next weekend on Sept. 22 at the Pepperdine Invitational in Malibu, Calif.

Final Team Scoring (Top 5) at the 63rd Aztec Invitational: 1.) Arkansas - 28, 2.) UCSB - 97, 3.) NAU - 114, 4.) USC - 117, 5.) CS Los Angeles - 135

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