Bronco Track Competes Well At Mt. Sac and Bryan Clay Invitational

The Santa Clara men's and women's track teams traveled south this weekend for the opportunity to face the nation's best athletes at the 56th Annual Mt. Sac Invitational and the Bryan Clay Invitational, and the Broncos took full advantage of the competitive opportunity.

Joey Berriatua kept the ball rolling on his successful freshman year campaign with a win in the seventh section of the Mt. Sac 1,500-meter event. Berriatua settled in the back of the field for two laps, and seemed out of contention following a penultimate lap of 64 low, which placed him out of the top 10 going into the bell lap.  But he was able to find another gear at the sound of the bell and Berriatua worked up to the top seven with 200 remaining, and didn't stop his move there.  Needing a 58.8 second bell lap to secure the win, Berriatua made a move over the curve to get past the chase pack and pulled past two competitors with 40 meters remaining, securing a victory in the most competitive field he has faced this season. His metric mile time of 3:51.86 moves him into second all time on the Broncos all-time track and field top times list.  

"Joey's performance really stood out," said Broncos head coach Felipe Montoro.  "He's running with a lot of confidence, and has been able to perform well with varying tactics. He's adapting to each race situation, and he keeps putting himself into contention to win down the homestretch."  

Berriatua followed up his performance with an impromptu 5,000-meter race at the Bryan Clay Invitational hosted by Azusa Pacific University.  It was his first crack at the 3.1 mile distance on the track, and he finished his inaugural 5k performance in 14 minutes 53.02 seconds, good enough for fourth place.  Also competing in the 5k was redshirt junior Ben Demaree, who finished in a personal best 15:00.46.  Sophomore Ryan Greenough followed close behind in 15:06.22.  

Sophomore Bryan Crook, competing in his first 10k alongside teammates sophomore Sam Holeman and senior Moises Venegas, finished the 25 lap event in the second fastest time in Santa Clara track history, clocking 30:29.04.  His time was good enough for fifth place in the University/Open B heat.   

"Bryan is well-suited for an event like the 10k because he has an innate sense for pace, he knows how to compete and he's got a lot of mental courage," said Bronco assistant coach Pete Cushman.  "He split 15:15 through 5k, and came back with a 15:14 in the second half of the race. This was a great learning experience for him, and a really solid debut."   

Holeman also debuted in the 10k event, and managed to rattle off 21 straight laps of 74 to 75 seconds (4:56-5:00 minute per mile pace) before a cramp in his side and shoulder threw a hitch in his pace over the last mile.  His debut time of 31:23.55 placed him 12th overall.  

Senior Moises Venegas battled back issues en route to his 31:57.91 performance, which placed him 27th.  

"We are very proud of how tough Moises has been, while dealing with this painful setback," said Montoro.  "We admire his determination. He fought the entire race despite being in apparent discomfort."   

Redshirt-sophomore Mary Kriege, competing in her second race of the 2014 track season, ran just off her personal best over 5,000-meters, finishing 21st in the University/Open C Division.  Kriege, still shaking some of her race rust after missing the first month of racing this year, fell in line and let the pack drag her through the first two miles in 11 min. 07 seconds, splitting near-even miles. As she approached two miles, she began methodically pressing down the pace and made progress reeling in athletes.   

"Mary is at her best as the race reaches its most challenging point, and relative to her current fitness, she did an outstanding job competing in the last 1/3 of the race," said Montoro.  "Her improvement curve has been huge since coming back from her setback, and we think that will continue into the last two meets of the year.  Ultimately her best event is the 10k, and she'll get a great opportunity and will be physically prepared for that event on May 10th."

Junior Kelly Ryan, competing in her first 10,000-meter race, took advantage of the opportunity to run in front of her hometown crowd, clocking a 37:37.06 over the 6.2 mile race. The University/Open B race began in the late night hours of Thursday evening, and  ran into the early morning of Friday after it was all said and done. 

Ryan has specialized in the 5,000m event up to this point, but she and the coaching staff have believed all along that her best event is the 10k.

"Kelly is very well suited for the 10k, and this venue near her hometown seemed like the most fitting way to debut at this event," said Montoro.  "She had the opportunity to run in front of her friends and family against some great competition under the lights, and this should be the first of a few more 10k's in her collegiate career."  

Junior Amia Nash completed a rare 800/1500 meter double that resulted in two new personal bests. She finished the two lap event in 2:18.39 and came back in the 1,500-meter race, clocking a 4:53.45.  

"The field was a bit bigger than a typical 800 race, and Amia spent much of her race trapped along the rail," said Montoro.  "She ran composed, and took advantage of a very late opening along the homestretch.  She was a little frustrated with the way that played out, and she did a great job regaining her composure and coming back with an outstanding 1,500." 

Junior Kaeli Hancock continues to make big strides of improvement in the 800m. The junior-college transfer has moved up in distance, and has handled the transition well. She finished in a personal best of 2:19.38

"Moving up to the 800m was a big change for Kaeli, but she's a competitive student-athlete, and has embraced the new event, and keeps making big improvements," said Montoro.  

Sophomore Allison Maio placed 10th in the second section of the Bryan Clay Invitational 5,000m race in a season best 18:22.36.     

The Broncos return to action this Friday at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational hosted by the University of California in Berkeley.