USC Takes Fifth At UC Irvine Invitational

Sept. 12, 2009

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IRVINE, CA -- Senior Katherine Ellis placed 30th to lead USC to a fifth-place finish at the UC Irvine Invitational in Irvine, Calif. today (Sept. 12) as several Trojans made their 2009 cross country debuts and several others remained sidelined with injuries.

'I thought we ran well as a group today as we had only a 20-second gap between our first and fifth runners, Kat (Ellis) and Bridget (Helgerson),' said USC cross country coach Tom Walsh. 'I think we improved since last week, especially the freshmen Kathleen (Moloney) and Theresa (Kurth). I was also impressed with Christine's (Cortez) first race as a Trojan as she ran 18.51.'

Ellis led a tightly grouped Trojan contingent with a time of 18:44.70, 17 seconds faster than she ran last year on the course when she also was USC's top finisher.

The Trojans' second finisher was freshman Kathleen Moloney who placed 34th with a time of 18:48.60. Right behind her was sophomore Leah Gaeta who took 37th with a time of 18:50.80 in her first race of the season. Junior transfer Christine Cortez in her first race as a Trojan was a half second behind, taking 38th with a time of 18:51.30.

Senior captain Bridget Helgerson running in her first race of the season was the Trojans' final scorer as she took 50th place with a time of 19:04.10. Junior Zara Lukens placed 54th with a time of 19:06.90 and freshman Theresa Kurth was 56th with a time of 19:09.10

Last season USC placed 10th at the UC Irvine Invitational with its top finishing time being 19:01 and a team score of 274. This year all of the Trojans' seven runners finished in the top 56 out of a field of 149 runners and had a team score of 179.

'We're starting at a higher point than last year and if we continue to improve like we did last year, we should be okay,' added Walsh.

The Trojans next race will be at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. on Sept. 26. The team is hopeful to be closer to full-strength for that meet and should at least have its top runner junior Zsofia Erdelyi back following her recovery from plantar fasciitis.

Another promising note for the USC cross country program was how well sophomore transfer Shelby Buckley ran in the first race of the day. Buckley, who has to sit out this season due to transfer rules, ran unattached in the first race and won with a time of 17:52.70

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