FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton's Jose Penaloza and Sierra Ungerman posted top-10 finishes for the Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams at the Ag/Ops Course adjacent to the UC Riverside campus as part of the Highlander Invitational on Saturday.
"Overall I thought both squads showed improvement and that's a good trend to have going into the Big West Championships in two weeks," head coach John Elders said. "I am looking forward to seeing what our squads can do. In the meantime, we are tapering our training and trying to get sharp, fresh and ready to go for the Conference championships."
The Titan men finished third overall and second among Division I programs as Penaloza carded his third top-10 finish of the year while leading the Titans for the fourth time this season, completing the 6k in a time of 18:13.71 – nine seconds off his time from 2014.
"Our guys ran solid, but were a little tired," Elders said. "We had a hard training week, and the guys didn't seem too sharp, but despite that ran solid. We had a couple of breakthroughs. One of the big surprises of the day was Sam Pimentel, a freshman, who ran No. 4 for us. Another freshman, Anthony Alfaro, probably had his best race of the season."
Competing in the team first 6k of the year just two weeks shy of the Big West Championship, the Titans outpaced fellow Big West foes UC Irvine, UC Riverside and CSUN.
With four top-20 finishes, sophomore Joe Casco was the second Titan to cross the finish line in a time of 18:29.26 (14th). He was closely followed by senior Tim Reed's 15th-place finish in a time of 18:34.33.
With his best finish of the season, Pimentel was the fourth Titan (20th overall) to cross the finish line in a time of 18:37.72. Senior Jeff Little was the fifth Titan in 21st place with a time of 18:38.82. Fullerton's last two scores came from Alfaro in 32nd place (18:48.43) and junior Martin Montes in 39th place (19:02.16).
Long Beach State won the meet with 49 points followed by Central Arizona (63), Cal State Fullerton (76), UC Irvine (96), Pepperdine (104), UC Riverside (117) and CSUN (157).
Freshman Gilbert Kigen from Central Arizona won the race in a time of 17:37.55
The women finished fourth as just 30 points separated the second and fifth place teams.
For the second time this season, Ungerman paced the women's team with a sixth-place finish in a time of 17:58.28 on the 5k course – her fastest time of the season. Senior Emily Taylor finished in 11th with a time of 18:10.40 as junior Pamela Pelayo was the third Titan (21st overall) to cross the finish line in a time of 18:32.01 – more than 30 seconds improved from 2014.
UC Riverside finished first with 70 points followed by San Diego State (81), USC (87), Cal State Fullerton (91), Long Beach State (111), CSUN (133), Pepperdine (157), UC Irvine (160), Central Arizona (216), Point Loma (259).
"We lost to San Diego State by 10 points today, and in the first meet of the year we lot to them by 66, so the ladies are getting better every week," Elders said.
Faith Makau of UC Riverside won the race in a time of 17:17.63.
The Titans return to action on Friday hosting the Titan Invitational at Cal State Fullerton.