Cal Opens Season At USF Invite
BERKELEY -- The USF Invitational at Golden Gate Park opens the 2021 season for the Golden Bears cross country teams. The women's 6k race at 10 a.m. starts the action at Hellman Hollow (formerly known as Speedway Meadow) followed by the men's 8k at 10:45 a.m. San Francisco's historic venue features a 2,000-meter loop made up of both grass and dirt trails with gradual elevation changes.
California is defending their USF Invitational titles against competitors from across the Bay Area, including the University of San Francisco who took second-place at the last USF Invitational and St. Mary's University, who took fourth-place.
In the last appearance at the USF Invitational in 2019, both the men's and women's squads took first under first-year head coach Bobby Lockhart. The 2019 USF Invitational was the seventh win for the Cal men's team in program history. Since the 2002 season, Cal has won seven team titles and five individual titles in meet history, with Garret Corcoran claiming the last individual victory during the 2018 season.
On the women's side, the 2019 USF Invitational was also the seventh team win in program history. The Cal women's team has claimed five individual victories in meet history, the most recent victor being Bethan Knights in the 2015 season.
Saturday's meet features eight student-athletes from the men's squad, including team veterans Gabe Abbes, who finished 36th in his collegiate debut at the 2020-2021 Pac-12 Championships and Colin FitzGerald who finished eighth at the 2019 USF Invitational with a time of 25:46.6.
On the women's side, seven student-athletes will be racing the 6k loop. Marea Zlatunich returns to the track at Golden Gate Park, where she placed sixth in the 2019 USF Invitational with a time of 22:02.4. In her last appearance in the Blue and Gold at the 2020-2021 Pac-12 Championships, Zlatunich set a personal record of 20:53.2 which landed her a 40th-place finish.
Also competing on the women's squad will be Meredith Corda, who took tenth-place at the 2019 USF Invitational with a time of 22:10.3. Corda recently set her lifetime best at the 2020-2021 Pac-12 Championships with a time of 21:27.6.
This will be the third season opener under Head Coach Bobby Lockhart, who is joined by new coaching staff additions in Assistant Coach Kayla Ferron and Volunteer Assistant Tim Gorman.
"I am happy to be a part of this team and get our season started," Ferron said. "We're looking to start the season off right with some positive momentum on both sides. I'm excited to see what the season has to offer and get back into our uniforms again!"