XC Women Dominate UCR Highlander Invite, Men Take Second

Sam Huerta. Credit Matt Brown
Sam Huerta. Credit Matt Brown

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Like head coach John Elders predicted, Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country had its best meet of the season on Saturday. The women's squad had a dominating performance to win the 5,000-meter race as six Titans finished in the top 12 of the collegiate competitors. Samantha Huerta was the first collegiate finisher in the competition (third overall). The men also performed well as the team earned a runner-up finish and had two top-10 finishers.

Fullerton tallied 29 points on the women's side in the win, New Mexico State had 84 points in second place and San Diego totaled 99 in third place.

On the men's side, Cal Baptist won with 51 points while the Titans were second with 92 points. Long Beach State was third at 110 points and UC Riverside was fourth with 114.

Huerta, in just her second race of the season, was tops among the collegians at 17:03.40 in the 5,000-meter race. She bested the fourth-place runner by roughly five seconds. In fifth place at 17:11.61 was fellow Titan Trinity Ruelas who has been a consistently strong runner for Elders this year. Lucina Vincent clocked a time of 17:21.38 to take eighth place, Sandra Flores was 14th at 17:33.85 and Gabrielle De La Rosa rounded out the scoring at 17:37.01 in 16th place. Alyssa Block was 17th overall with a time of 17:40.87.

"The women absolutely crushed it," head coach John Elders said. "Those times are very fast for Sam, Trinity and Lucina. Sam actually set the school record for a 5K cross country race. The second group of Sandra, Gabby and Alyssa also had their best races of the season. Alyssa had a good breakthrough today and it was a great overall performance from our team, we crushed everybody. It sets us up nice for the upcoming meets and we just have to stay healthy and maintain our routine."

Samuel Pimentel led the way for the men's squad with an 8K time of 24:44.40 in seventh place and right behind him was Jacob Smith in eighth place with a time of 24:44.51. Anthony Alfaro was 18th at 25:07.68, Jorge Sanchez took 26th place with a time of 25:18.68 and Erick Juarez was the final scorer at 25:28.73 in 36th place.

"It was a mixed bag for the guy," Elders said. "We still aren't hitting on all cylinders. Sam and Jacob, obviously they were very good runs for them. Anthony had a good race in just his second race after an injury so that was a good sign. Edgard Villa had a nice race today and that should give him some confidence going forward. We just had too much of a gap between the first three finishers and the last two finishers. That is something we need to tighten up. It's right there but right now we just aren't right where we are capable of being."

Next up, the squad hosts the Titan Invite on campus with a 5 p.m. PT start time on Friday.

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