XC Men Take 17th, Women Finish 19th at NCAA West Regionals

SEATTLE – Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams concluded the 2017 season on Friday when the men took 19th place and the women finished in 17th at the NCAA West Regional in Seattle. Sophomore Samantha Huerta's 57-place finish in the 6,000-meter race led the way for the women's squad while freshman Jacob Smith took 86th place in the 10K as the leader of the men's team.

San Francisco won the competition with 59 points while Stanford took second place with 76 points to earn the two automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. Oregon (92) finished in third place, Boise State (104) took fourth place and California (183) was fifth overall. Cal State Fullerton tallied 511 points in 19th place and was fourth among Big West teams.

"The gals ran a very competitive race," head coach John Elders said. "I thought all five of our top girls ran solid and Sam had one of our best finishes in a while. It was one of those things where if we just ran a little bit better we would've passed four or five teams. We didn't run bad but we didn't run great. I think this is a great step forward for Sam (Huerta) and I think she can see that she can be an elite runner and try to make it to the NCAA Championships as an individual."

For the men, Portland won with 63 points and Washington scored 65 in second place to punch their tickets to the NCAA Championships. Stanford (85), Oregon (149) and UCLA (164) rounded out the top five. Cal State Fullerton finished in 17th place overall with 527 points and was third among Big West competitors.

"The guys were just too shorthanded," Elders said. "We missed Joshua Silva and Danny Ramirez missed a week of training and we thought he could run today but he just didn't have it. Our top three guys ran very solid; they worked together and did well. If we just had a bit more from our fourth and fifth runners we could've been in the top 15. Each of our top three finishers today are all back next year and I think the future looks really good for the men. I think our goal for looking ahead is a top 12 team next year."

Huerta led the way for the women's team by taking 57th place with a 6K time of 20:55.58. Huerta's 57th-place finish is the best finish by a Titan at the NCAA West Regional since Carolyn Ellis took 46th place in 2009. Freshman Wendi Leos took 75th place and ran the 6K in 21:09.21. Sophomore Sandra Flores finished in 126th place (21:58.6) and right behind her was junior Gabriella De La Rosa in 127th place (21:58.9). Junior Brianna Jacklin was the fifth and final scorer for the Titans in 133rd place with a time of 22:03.3.

"Of the women that ran today, all of them return except for Brianna Jacklin," Elders said. "We had a couple girls redshirt, recruiting is going well and we're going to be even better next year. Our goal is to be a top 10 team in the region next year and I don't think that's unrealistic at all."

Smith's 10K time of 31:16.2 was good for 86th place overall. Junior Samuel Pimentel took 90th place with a time of 31:21.4 and sophomore Jorge Sanchez was just behind him in 93rd place with a time of 31:25.4. Freshman David Pacheco's time of 32:04.1 was good for 119th place and senior Jason Hillquist was the final scorer for the men's team in 140th place at 32:22.6.

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