SAN FRANCISCO- The Pacific cross country team kicked off their season today at the 2013 USF Cross Country Invitational in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The day was perfect for racing with temperatures in the low 60s.
This first 5K race of the season was a chance for the Tigers to get some racing legs under them and gauge the results of their offseason training. The invitational included 11 teams, including three nationally-ranked squads. Pacific's box was to the right of nationally-ranked Stanford and to the left of former Big West rival Cal State Northridge.
At the start of the race, Pacific settled into a competitive placement among the field's 115 runners. Coming into the first mile, sophomores Becky Grabow (Carson City, Nev.) and Lindsay Wourms (Camas, Wash.) led the Pacific squad with five teammates just seconds behind.
Heading towards the second mile marker, Grabow began to pull away and lead the team. All the Tiger runners looked strong through the middle section of the race.
"We've been working on running efficiently and smoothly through the entire race," said Coach Jones about the team's racing strategy.
With 800m to go, Grabow and Wourms were close with the front pack, poised for a strong, competitive finish. Led by freshman Megan Hall (Rocklin, Calif.), the rest of Pacific's scoring team finished competitively with a 2:10 improvement on the team time from the 2012 version of the Invitational. The Tigers ended the race with a fifth place team finish overall.
Coach Jones was pleased with his team's effort in San Francisco.
"Overall, it was a solid performance. Becky running with confidence helped lead the team with a new PR. Megan ran strong for her first race of the year as a freshman. Returners improved off their last year's performance to round out a good showing for our first race."
Sophomore Lauren Nakaso (San Ramon, Calif.) expressed enthusiam for Pacific's showing and the upcoming season.
"The race went really well and we were able to run as a pack to help push each other. I'm excited for this new season to start; we're training hard and looking good as a team."
Sophomore Jessica Guerra (Stockton, Calif.), saw the race as an indicator for the rest of the season.
"Overall, this race was a learning experience for everyone on the team, both new and returning. Placing fith overall and improving the team time was great. We came and ran a smart race. As the first race of the season and the start of our entrance to the WCC, I believe we can expect this season to be one of great improvements and breakthroughs."
Pacific will be back on the race course on September 7th, as they participate in the Crystal Springs meet in Belmont, Calif. and the UNR Twilight Race in Reno, Nev.