The Santa Clara Bronco track team, amidst a mix of rain, sun, cloudy skies, but generally great conditions invaded the school's top 10 lists at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival at Cox Stadium on Friday.
The highlight event of the meet is the 5,000-meter race, and it lived up to its expectations. Sophomore Adrian Hinojosa, in his fourth 5k of his collegiate career, ran a career best. His time of 14:39.38 was also the second-best time in school history. The race went out in a modest 72 seconds for the first lap before settling at 68-69's. Hinojosa, running mid-pack, split 4:42 for the first mile, and began his methodical and steady move through the bulk of the chase pack.
Hinojosa pulled his way into the top 10, and covered moves through the last two laps to finish seventh overall. His mark is nine seconds faster than his previous best, and nearly a minute better than his freshman year mark.
"When you feel good you feel good, but when you feel great you feel great, so I just kept turning left," said Hinojosa.
"Adrian has really turned a corner this sophomore year," said Bronco assistant coach Pete Cushman. "He's embraced competing, and has started to believe in his talent and fitness. He's been training at a high level all year, and we both believe he still has a lot of room for improvement this spring. We're excited to see how he competes down south in two weeks."
Bryan Crook ran a personal best of 14:50.15, placing 18th in the same heat. Ryan Greenough and Sam Holeman, competing in section three ran 15:02.37 and 15:10.09, respectively.
"Ryan is disappointed to miss breaking through that elusive 15 minute barrier, but he's never run this fast before, and he'll have plenty of more opportunities to compete and knock that mark down,' said Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro.
Sophomore Mary Kriege, competing in her first track meet of the spring, ran her second-fastest time in her career in 17:31.55. Both Kriege and junior Kelly Ryan, competing in the second section of the 5k, placed ninth and 15th, respectively. Their race got out quick from the start, and Kriege and Ryan remained controlled and about two seconds per lap off the lead group, as they clipped off a steady pace of 84's, which kept them in the back third of the total field.
The seasoned vets didn't panic, and as the race approached 2k the quick pace began to break up the field, and Kriege and Ryan took advantage of the opportunity to pick people off. Kriege moved from 22nd place to ninth over the last 3k of the race.
Kriege will have more opportunities to take a stab at the sub 17 barrier this spring, a mark that Montoro believes she can achieve. "Mary is tough, and will always stick her nose in any race," said Montoro. "She'll have a great opportunity to get after it in two weeks down south, and she'll really benefit from two more weeks of work. Today was a great rust buster, and we're excited to see how she progresses this spring."
Ryan's 17:39.28 knocked over 10 seconds off her previous best, and vaults her into the Santa Clara track all-time list.
"Kelly had her best race in a Bronco uniform by far," said Cushman. "This was her most complete 5k I've seen her run. She's always run fearless and been competitive, but two weeks ago the wheels fell off a bit in the last 1k, but today she looked her best during the most challenging points in the race. It was great to see."
Freshman Elsa Valenzuela ran a personal best of 18:32.22 to finish fifth in section four. With one runner taking off from the gun, Valenzuela took over pacing duties for the chase pack, leading seven other runners through two miles in 11:48.
"It was great to see Elsa take control of the chase pack, and make an effort to close up the gap that formed in the first quarter of the race," said Cushman. "It's a new territory for her, and I like that she ran it aggressively. We've focused on shorter races so far because her low volume background, but as she's adjusted to college training, she's starting to show where her strengths are, and we believe the 5k fits those best."
Junior Audrey Hiatt just missed her personal best in the 3k steeple chase by fractions of a second, covering the event in 11:18.69. Hiatt ran an even and competitive race, finishing 11th overall in the first section of the event.
"It's the best Audrey has looked over the barriers, and the steeple is the kind of event that requires a lot of practice and repetitions to master," said Montoro. "She's on the brink of a major breakthrough. She's fit, she's hurdling well and she's a very competitive athlete."
Freshman Joey Berriatua continued his string of impressive first year performances with yet another personal best, a second best in school history, and fifth overall in the second section of the metric mile, running the three and three quarter lap event in 3:53.28. The race went out in 62 for the first lap, but settled into a 65 on the second lap, but the race got moving with 700 to go, and Berriatua took advantage, closing his last quarter in 60 seconds, mostly run in lane two.
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and Joey Berriatua," said Hinojosa.
Junior Amia Nash ran her second-fastest 800m race of her career, running 2:18.74. Her mark was good enough for fifth in the third section.
"Amia attributed her performance to her lucky deodorant, though I actually think she's been looking good in workouts, and was ready for a race like this one," said Cushman. "She's got more in the tank, and we are looking forward to the next month of competitions for her."
Junior Kaili Hancock out kicked all of section six to take the victory in a personal best of 2:22.19 in the 800m.
The Broncos return to action in two weeks when the head south for a split squad event between the world class Mt. SAC Relays and the Bryan Clay Invitational.