USC Wins Pepperdine Invitational; First Team Win Since 2001

Oct. 4, 2008

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Zsofia Erdelyi and the USC women's cross country team dominated the competition today (Oct. 4) at the 6K Pepperdine Invitational to win the Trojans first cross country meet since the 2001 season. The shining effort from the Trojans pieced through the overcast skies and made the large contingent of USC fans and head coach Tom Walsh very happy.

'The last three weeks we have been focusing on competing because we weren't at San Diego,' said Walsh. 'I wanted them to focus on beating people and not on their split times and they did that very well today. They competed the whole race and there were no lapses.'

Erdelyi won the race with a time of 20:33.22 as she battled with teammate Sarah Cocco the whole way, who took second with a time of 20:46.95. Cocco won the 2007 Pepperdine Invitational with a school-record 6K time of 20:00. For Erdelyi, it was her second career win as she won the 2007 Triton Classic.

The dynamic sophomore duo of Erdelyi and Cocco finished with more than a 25-second gap over the competition, but they were not the only Trojans excelling on the day. Junior Bridget Helgerson set a new PR and placed fourth with a time of 21:14.51, just missing by a second and a half of giving the Trojans a 1-2-3 finish.

Right behind her and also setting a 6K PR was redshirt junior Christine Greer who took fifth in the scoring with a time of 21:24.60. It was an impressive race for Greer who had not run a competitive 6K cross country race since the 2006 Pac-10 Championships.

USC's final scoring runner was junior Chanel Fischetti who took 10th with a time of 21:55.95. For Fischetti, it was just a little more than a second off her career-best 6K time set last year at the same meet.

The total of 22 points by the Trojans top five finishers easily outdistanced the field as second-place Pepperdine finished with 54 points and third-place Drake tallied 55 points. It was the first team victory for USC since they won the Long Beach Invitational on Oct. 8, 2001 with a total of 55 points.

In her first 6K race as a Trojan, freshman Leah Gaeta was the sixth Trojan runner and 12th in the team scoring with a time of 22:05.90. The last Trojan to figure in the team scoring was sophomore Zara Lukens who also set a 6K personal best of 22:12.60 to place 14th.

Also competing for the Trojans today were junior Katherine Ellis (21st with a PR of 22:25.82), freshman Jessica Lundin (26th, 22:43.37), senior Liz Gill (27th, 22:52.10), sophomore Brianna Bentley (32nd, 23:05.36) and junior Jasmine Leija (23:14.82).

'The girls really competed well at practice this week and made up their minds that they weren't going to have another meet like San Diego the rest of the year,' said Walsh. 'Hopefully we can build off this race for the rest of the season.'

The Women of Troy cross country team will next be in action on Oct. 17 at the Roadrunner Invitational in Bakersfield, Calif.

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