UC Davis has developed into quite a prominent front-runner in cross country.
As the season enters full bloom, both the men and women runners have been gaining experience that will help them in the upcoming months of competition.
At the Pac-12 preview hosted by UCLA, the Aggies tested their might by sending down their more experienced runners.
Sarah Sumpter led the women by placing second overall and junior Alycia Cridebring finished fifth in the women’s 5k race.
Four other UC Davis runners finished in the top 30 of a strong field.
As for this past weekend, the Aggies put other runners to the test at the Stanford Invitational.
The women’s cross country team threw a handful of younger runners into the mix to gain some experience. The Aggies sent four freshmen, which included Venus Shabgahi who placed 30th, the highest of the UC Davis women.
Sophomore Melinda Zavala followed Shabgahi’s performance with a 22:21 in the 6k and junior Hilary Teaford finished three seconds after Zavala.
The women’s runners placed 10th overall on Saturday.
The UC Davis men’s cross country team showed considerable promise, despite sporting a less-experienced roster.
Sophomore Trevor Halsted led the Aggies with a 24:37 that was good for a 12th-place finish on the 8k course.
“On a day that saw the men’s course run considerably slower than in previous years, Halsted cemented himself as this team’s front-runner with his race,” said head coach Drew Wartenburg.
The men’s team, which finished eighth at the Stanford Invite, is comprised entirely of freshmen and sophomores (10 and three, respectively) as well as two lone juniors in Grayson Hough and Nathan Strum.
UC Davis will enter the season as underdogs in most races, seeing that the freshmen have not yet established themselves on a collegiate level, but they show no signs of backing off.
“Grayson did what we needed him to do, and it was good to see two freshmen step into scoring roles,” Wartenburg said.
Both the men and women’s cross country teams have much to prove as they continue to plow through the year. The women will be defending their first ever Big West Conference title, while the men must make a name for themselves on the NCAA Division I level.
The Aggies will split their squad into two groups on Oct. 13, one to go to the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville, Ky. and the other much closer at the Bronco Invitational in Santa Clara, Calif.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.