Cocco And Erdelyi Lead USC To A Third-Place Finish At Pepperdine

Sept. 22, 2007

It rained before the race and it rained after the race, but in between freshman Sarah Cocco reigned as she won the 2007 Pepperdine Invitational (6K) cross country meet to help lead the Trojans to a third-place finish today (Sept. 22) in Malibu, Calif.

In a close race, USC finished third with 75 points, trailing winner CS Los Angeles which had 64 points and CS Fullerton which totaled 68 points. In all, there were 12 teams that competed, including preseason No. 8 in the West Region UCLA which finished eighth. USC's combined time of its top five finishers was actually the fastest of the three teams (USC - 1:45.09.79, CSLA - 1:45:37.29 and CSUF - 1:46:00.53), but cross country scoring is determined by place and both CSLA and CSUF had five runners finish in the top 22.

'I thought our team tactics today were very impressive,' said USC cross county coach Tom Walsh. 'Our top six girls ran in pairs and did everything they were supposed to do in the first half of the race and that set them up for the success they enjoyed in the second half of the race. This is the best I've seen this team compete in the last few years. Chanel Fischetti really came to run today.'

Cocco made it two-for-two as a Trojan, winning the Aztec Invitational (5K) last week with a time of 17:43. Today the freshman phenom won the 6K with a time of 20:00. Cocco ran along side fellow freshman Zsofia Erdelyi and trailing CS Los Angeles' senior Karla Alburez until about the two-mile mark, then sprinted to the front and never looked back.

Erdelyi also had a strong race, placing third with a time of 20:29.85. The native of Hungary placed 13th last week in San Diego.

'Zsofia is starting to find her rhythm and is really is going to be a force by the end of the season,' said Walsh.

USC's third-place finisher and 19th overall was senior captain Laura Meyers. Meyers had a time of 21:20.94.

'Laura is really starting to get back into the swing of things again after redshirting last year at Columbia,' said Walsh. 'Her training is solid and she will be ready for the important races at the end of the season.'

Sophomores Bridget Helgerson and Chanel Fischetti were USC's final two scoring runners, both shaving more than two minutes off their previous best 6K race. Helgerson placed 20th with a time of 21:24.76 and Fischetti came in 32nd with a time of 21:54.24.

Junior Taylor Carroll was USC's sixth finisher, placing 40th with a time of 22:14.73, while freshman Zara Lukens was the seventh Women of Troy runner to cross the line with a time of 22:34.02, good for 48th.

Also running today for USC were freshman Brianna Bentley (54th, 22:41.97), freshman Kristin Byrne in her first race (52nd, 22:43.14) and sophomore Jennifer Wells (71st, 23:33.27).

Last week when Cocco won the Aztec Invitational, she became the first USC cross country runner to win a meet since 2003. By winning today's Pepperdine Invitational, USC has had a runner finish first in consecutive races for the first time since 2001. In that season, senior Sarah Ellis won the Riverside Invitational on Sept. 22, 2001 and then freshman Lisa Rotsel won the Long Beach Invitational on Oct.8, 2001. Cocco's 6K time of 20:00.00 is believe to be the fastest run by a Trojan since some cross country invitationals started incorporating the longer distance about six years ago.

The USC women's cross country team will next be in action on Oct. 6 at the UCSD Triton Invitational in San Diego, Calif.

Final Team Scoring at the Pepperdine Invitational: 1.) CS Los Angeles - 64, 2.) CS Fullerton - 68, 3.) USC - 75, 4.) Xavier - 103, 5.) Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne - 120, 6.) San Jose State - 126, 7.) Fresno State - 130, 8.) UCLA - 177, 9.) Pacific - 280, 10,) CS Northridge - 298, 11.) Pepperdine - 330 and 12.) Christian Brothers - 368.

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