The men finished fifth out of 26 teams at the Capital Cross Challenge in Sacramento. (Courtesy of CPP Athletic Department)

Men place fifth overall, Betart sets personal best

Men’s cross country logged another top five finish while senior Anahi Betart set a personal best at the Capital Cross Challenge held in Sacramento on Saturday.

The men placed fifth overall out of 26 schools after winning the previous two races they’ve competed in.

“We feel content about our finish,” sophomore Jeremiah Suzara said. “We thought we would finish faster.”

The men finished fifth out of 26 teams at the Capital Cross Challenge in Sacramento. (Courtesy of CPP Athletic Department)

Suzara led all Broncos with a 25th overall finish out of 266 competitors and a time of 25 minutes, 3.4 seconds.

Junior Alejandro Ambrosio was the next closest finisher in 28th place.

According to Suzara, he got out to a slow start and had to make up lost time.

“I was just trying to focus on the next guy in front of me,” he said.

Along with Suzara, the rest of the team got off to slow starts and were unable to stay together as a group for most of the race.

“For our next race we should do a better job of getting out faster as a pack,” Suzara said.

The team has been practicing race paces during practice during the week, but according to Suzara, the team fell short of that during Saturday’s race.

Betart led the way for the women who placed 13th out of 26 schools with a personal best 22:11.1.

She improved on her personal record by 23 seconds and finished 39th out of 251 runners.

“Strategy wise, we need to be better about going out there and not worrying about the fact that we’re going out so fast,” Betart said. “We get caught up with knowing what the pace is rather than just running our race and going off feeling. I think I need to work on actually being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Betart started in the front group of runners but allowed her teammate junior Elizabeth Hernandez to get out in front.

“My pace was a little bit off from what it should have been,” Betart said.

Betart described her tendency in races as starting further back and working her way up “little by little” as the race unfolds. By the midway point of the race, Betart had overtaken Hernandez.

Hernandez was the next best finisher for the Broncos finishing 66th overall with a time of 22:47.9.

“We’re not happy with where we finished,” Associate Head Coach Wes Ashford said. “We are where we are and there’s nothing we can do about it except for just keep working and building from here.”

Ashford felt the team did not do as well running together but acknowledged that in bigger races it is difficult to stay connected. In addition, Ashford said the team can improve in its mental and physical approach as well as positioning throughout the race.

“There’s a lot of things that we need to improve on,” Ashford said. “We’ll just take it one step at a time and tackle each obstacle that’s in front of us and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be able to be where we want to be.”

The team’s final race before the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships is the Festival Year Fiasco held next month in Evansville, Indiana.

The race is an opportunity for both teams to improve their credentials for qualifying for nationals.

Three teams from each region earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Championships held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this December.

However, up to 15 other schools from any region can receive at-large bids depending on how they stack up against schools from outside of their own region.

“It’s all head-to-head,” Ashford said. “Who did you beat? Who beat who?”

With nearly a month separating this weekend’s race and the Oct. 20 race in Indiana, Ashford will be able to take the information he gathered about his team from Sacramento and utilize it to prepare the team for the remainder of the season.

In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings released on Sept. 25 and 26, the men remained fifth in the west region and 24th in the nation.

The women dropped out of both the west region and national rankings after being ranked 14th in the nation last week.

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