After a month-long training block, the Long Beach State men’s and women’s Cross Country teams took to Baylands Park in Sunnyvale to compete in the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational Saturday. The men finished ninth and the women finished in 18th.
The men were led by a seniors Michael Simpson (24:35.6) and Raymon Ornelas (24:38.0), as well as junior Ricky Villa (24:57.2), finishing 18th, 21st and 52nd respectively. All three runners finished with personal bests in the men’s 8K.
“I thought the guys ran really well,” head coach Shawn Winget said. “We raced really well in the first half, had a little of a mental lapse from miles three to four, but woke back up and finished strong.”
The women were not as consistent Saturday. They were led by senior Alyssa Allen who placed 26th overall in the women’s 6K with a time of 21:02.2.
Despite Allen’s strong performance, the team was unable to match her pace. The next runner to finish after Allen was senior Julie Vargas at 21:48.7 who placed 73rd.
“We need everyone close,” Winget said. “Ideally runners one to five are within a minute of each other.”
The men and women will both look to address their mistakes before the Big West Conference Championship Nov. 2.
“A lot of it is just mental,” Winget said. “It’s just about being engaged for the entire race and it’s not easy to do. There are some workouts that we’ll try, but this is one of those things where if I could tell you how to correct it, I would be a wealthy man.”
Next on the schedule is the Titan Invitational, hosted by CSU Fullerton. The Beach doesn’t plan on racing much of the team besides a few women in preparation for the conference event, Winget said.
The Big West Conference Championship will be held at the UCR Agricultural Operations Course, a route the team has already run on Sep. 14.
The invitational this weekend is similar to UCR’s and worked well as practice for the team.
“The conditions were perfect,” Winget said. “This course is similar to the Riverside course. It’s a fast course and a tight course with some sharp turns. I like where the guys are at, they have a chance to [win it]. For the women it looks great for Alyssa [Allen] to get into the top-10 and team-wise we want to be in the top-five.”
CSULB cross country will compete in the Titan Invitational at Cal State Fullerton Oct. 25.