Cocco Leads Trojans To Eighth-Place Finish At Pac-10 Championships

Oct. 27, 2007

The young USC women's cross country team placed eighth at the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships hosted by by Oregon State at the Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Ore. today (Oct. 27), led by freshman Sarah Cocco's 11th-place finish.

For USC, which featured one senior, three freshmen and three sophomore runners, it was its best finish as a team since also finishing eighth as a team in 2004. The 215 point total was USC's best as a team since scoring 185 in 2003 and is 108 points better than last year's score.

The Pac-10 Conference is widely regarded as the NCAA's top cross country conference as it features No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 Arizona State and No. 9 Washington, with the Cardinal being the defending NCAA champions. The conference tournament results played to form as Stanford finished first with 48 points, followed by Oregon (64), Arizona State (68), Washington (68), Washington State (136), Arizona (188), Oregon State (197), USC (215), California (237) and UCLA (248). For Stanford, it was its 12th consecutive conference title and Arianna Lambie won her third straight Pac-10 title with a time of 19:40.7.

One of the main reasons for optimism in the USC cross country program has to be Cocco. The freshman's 11th place finish was the best by a Trojan since Iryna Vashchuk took 10th at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships. Cocco's time of 20:30.9 is the best by a USC runner since the Pac-10 Championships went to a 6K race for the 2000 season, besting Vashchuk's time of 21:17 in 2004.

Cocco won the other two races of her collegiate career, winning the Aztec Invitational with a time of 17:43, the best time in a 5K race by a Trojan since 1998 and then won the Pepperdine Invitational with a school-record 6K time of 20:00.

Placing second for USC was senior team captain Laura Meyers with a time of 21:28.33, good for 42nd place. Meyers was coming off a win at the CS Fulleton Titan Invitational last week, when she had a 5K time of 18:08.

Zsofia Erdelyi had a good start to her day when Pac-10 Conference officials ruled that the freshman would be allowed to wear her signature hat for the race, but that would be the highlight for the native of Hungary. Erdelyi placed 45th with a time of 21:33.3, third among USC's finishers. The talented freshman had been USC's first or second-place finisher in all three races she ran this season, including winning the UC San Diego Triton Invitational by setting a new course record.

Sophomore Bridget Helgerson had another strong race as USC's fourth finisher, placing 52nd with a time of 21:50.0. Sophomore Katherine Ellis was USC's final scoring runner with a career-best 6K time of 22:48.0, good for 65th.

Right behind Ellis was sophomore Chanel Fischetti who had a time of 22:50.4 (66th) and freshman Zara Lukens with a time of 23:04.1 (68th).

By finishing ahead of UCLA in the team competition, the USC women gained five points in the annual Lexus Gauntlet Challenge, the first time in the competition's seven-year history that the Trojans have captured the valuable points in cross country.

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