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Cross Country

Highlanders Host UC Riverside Invitational In Cross Country Action


Big West Cross Country Weekly Release No. 2

The Inland Empire is in the spotlight this weekend as the club hosts the UC Riverside Invitational, one of three meets the Highlanders host this season including the Big West Championship.

UCR will see plenty of Big West opposition at the Invitational as CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara are scheduled to compete. The meet will feature a men’s 8K and women’s 5K on the Ag/Ops Course.

Two other clubs will be in action over the weekend as Cal Poly heads to the Fresno State Invitational, while Hawai’i will stay on the islands for the Hawai’i Pacific Invitational. The Mustangs will face a talented field led by nationally ranked Stanford in a 6K men’s race and a 4.2K women’s race. UH should know the course they’ll compete on well since it competed it on it a week ago at the season-opening Big Wave Invitational. The ‘Bows finished third in that competition led by sophomore Montana Martinez.

• For the second year in a row, UC Santa Barbara’s Bryan Guijarro won the individual title at the season-opening Lagoon Meet between Cal Poly and the Gauchos. The senior crossed the finish line in 24:55.77, besting the second place finisher by five seconds in the 8K race.

• Jose Penaloza had his best day in a Cal State Fullerton uniform at the Mark Covert Classic last weekend. The junior finished third (fourth overall) with a time of 25:18.93 over the 8K course. Penaloza led the host Titans to a second place finish in their season-opening race.

• UC Davis swept the team titles with identical 23-28 scorelines at the Aggie Open, a season-opening dual meet against rival Sacramento State. Seniors Trevor Halstead and Christine Hoffman each posted second place finishes in their respective races. Halstead, who raced for the first time since 2013 due to injury, completed the 6K men’s course in 18:31, while Hoffman finshed up the women’s 4K in 13:56.

• Several Big West clubs are listed among the top teams in the region. On the men’s side, UC Santa Barbara leads the way with an ninth place ranking, while Cal Poly comes in at No. 11 and UC Davis at No. 15. The women’s regional rankings has UC Davis as the highest ranked Big West team at eighth, with Cal Poly at 11th.

• After thirty-plus years as a coach, including the last dozen with the Highlanders, UC Riverside Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Irv Ray, announced that he is retiring from intercollegiate coaching. Associate Head Coach Nate Browne, who has been with the program since 2003, will take over the program on an interim basis.

Ray was instrumental in UCR’s ascension to the top of the Big West as the year prior to Ray’s arrival on the Riverside campus, the women’s cross country team finished ninth in the conference and the men’s team finished eighth. Five years later, the women’s team hoisted the 2008 Big West Conference Championship trophy, and the men came within two points of a second place finish. That 2008 women’s title was capped by Ray being named the Big West Coach of the Year.