USC Wins The Vanguard Invitational
Oct. 10, 2009
USC cross country coach Tom Walsh said he was looking for his team to step it up this weekend and they did just that by winning the Vanguard Invitational today (Oct. 10) in Costa Mesa, Calif. to capture the team's first win of the season. Junior Zsofia Erdelyi was USC's top finisher on the 5K course which was 80 percent dirt paths and featured some rolling hills, placing fourth despite still battling a flu which has slowed her all week.
'Overall I think it was a spark to the team,' said Walsh. 'It was a good day. Winning the race and way we finished the last two miles of the race was very impressive. We got off to a really slow start at the one mile mark, a good 8 to 10 seconds behind where I wanted to be, but the whole team rallied at that point. I was really impressed that we had seven people finish in the top 20.'
The Women of Troy finished with 47 points today, easily outdistancing Orange Coast College which came in second with 74 points. Rounding out the top 10 in the team race were Concordia, Point Loma, Vanguard, CS Los Angeles, Westmont, CS Fullerton, Loyola Marymount and the Master's College. Four of the teams in the field were ranked in the NAIA top 25. CS Los Angeles, which is ranked No. 20 in NCAA Division II, had the winning runner as Vivien Wadeck finished the course with a time of 17:23, more than 20 seconds faster than the next finisher.
USC's top eight finishers all finished within 44 seconds of each other, led by Erdelyi who took fourth (4 points) with a time of 18:05. Junior Christine Cortez was next placing eighth (7 pts) with a time of 18:19, one second and position ahead of teammate senior Katherine Ellis who took ninth (8 pts) with a time of 18:20.
'Zsofia really battled. She was hit by the flu bug so I didn't know what to expect,' said Walsh. 'Individually I was impressed with the way Christine Cortez and Kat Ellis ran. They both competed really hard and passed a lot of people in the last two miles. This was also one of Zara Luken's best races as a Trojan finishing in the top 20. She ran a really good race.'
Senior captain Bridget Helgerson placed 14th (13 pts) with a time of 18:33, followed by junior Zara Lukens in 17th place (15 pts) with a time of 18:42 to round out the scoring for the Trojans. Freshman Kelly Owen (19th, 18.44) and sophomore Leah Gaeta (20th, 18.44) were the final two Trojans to figure in the team competition scoring.
USC sophomore Shelby Buckley who is redshirting this season and ran unattached in the race, placed seventh with a time of 18:19.
'I think this was the spark we needed,' added Walsh. 'We are starting to gel as a team and they can see that all the work is paying off and this will help our confidence as we head towards the Pac10 Championships at the end of the month.'
USC which has won three of the last six regular season meets it has competed in dating back to 2008, will be running next at the 6K CS Northridge Invitational on Friday, Oct. 16 in Northridge, Calif. at 4:45 p.m.