SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Santa Clara men's cross country turned in one of its best Bronco Invitational performances in several years on Saturday morning. Zach Litoff took fourth place overall with an 8-kilometer personal best 23:58.6 and led the men to a second-place finish as a team in the invitational race at Baylands Park.
Litoff's effort marks the highest individual finish by a Bronco since Robbie Reid won the invitational race in 2009. Santa Clara also had its best finish as a team since 2005.
Emma McCurry placed 58th with a 6-kilometer personal best 21:36.9 to lead the women in the invitational race. The team outraced West Coast Conference opponents in Saint Mary's, Gonzaga and Pepperdine.
Men's College Invitational 8K
Litoff bested his previous personal best mark by more than 45 seconds and became the fourth Bronco in history to crack the 24-minute mark in the 8k (Joey Berriatua, Kurt Ruegg, Jack Davidson). He scored for the Broncos alongside Jack Davidson (13th – 24:13.6), Xander Olivero (20th – personal best 24:18.2), Jorge Estrella (33rd – personal best 24:28.8) and Aaron Brumbaugh (35th – personal best 24:32.4).
Ben Davidson, James Konugres, Brennan Lagerstrom (personal best 25:07.2), Christian Raslowsky (personal best 25:18), Wilder Boyden, Aditya Mohan (personal best 25:45.9), Austin Blankenship, Evan Misuraca and John O'Hagan (personal best 26:18.1) also raced in the invitational.
The Broncos bested top squads from three USTFCCCA regionally ranked teams: Pepperdine (13 – West), Idaho (15 – West) and UTEP (15 – Mountain). Santa Clara finished with 96 points, second to only team champion Chico State, which had 53 points on the strength of three runners in the top 10 and all five scorers in the top 20. Loyola Marymount's Koby Pederson was the individual champion with a 23:57.1 and the Lions also had the second-place finisher in Jack Polerecky (23:57.2).
Head Coach Felipe Montoro: "I'm really pleased with how the team competed today. Our top objective was to have a small spread from one through five and I think that's the biggest reason we finished second as a team.
"I can't think of a Santa Clara team that wasn't here supporting us. We're appreciative of that; it made a really big difference in how we performed."
Women's College Invitational 6K
McCurry took 1:11 off of her prior personal best, which she set at the season-opening USF Invitational. She has led the Broncos in three of their four major meets this season (USF Invitational, BYU Autumn Classic).
McCurry and Noelani Obermeyer (62nd – personal best 21:38.8) finished within two seconds of eachother. Hannah Covington (84th – 21:55 in her Bronco debut), Sarah King (88th – personal best 21:56.5) and Ellie Kopf (145th – 22:29.4) rounded out the scoring five for the Broncos, which featured a freshman (Covington) and three sophomores (McCurry, King, Kopf). Jamie Ferris (personal best 22:55.5) and Janie Nabholz also raced in the invitational.
Oregon State took the team title in convincing fashion, totaling 48 points. Rice and UTEP each scored 172 points; the Miners had the top two finishers in Winny Koech (20:00.9) and Linda Cheruiyot (20:08.5).
Associate Head Coach Pete Cushman: "The race went really well. We had a number of objectives and pretty much met all of them. We didn't have a single runner under 22 minutes a year ago, so to have a team time average below that this year was really positive.
"I heard a couple of runners say they were really inspired coming down the last 100 meters from hearing and seeing all the other student-athletes and supporters from Santa Clara."
In the women's 6-kilometer open race, the Broncos took sixth place as a team a field of 23. Carolina Avelar led the group with a personal best 22:52 for a 33rd place finish. Claire Cocales (44th – personal best 23:00.5), Marisa Sanchez (46th – 23:07.8), Cecilia Avelar (50th – personal best 23:13.9) and Lucie Semone (56th –23:17.4) also scored for the Broncos. Julia Green (personal best 23:21.6), Kayla Neumann (team debut), Lacey Yahnke (personal best 24:07.5), Titilola Bolarinwa (personal best 24:47.1), Sophia Morris (team debut), Khiely Jackson (team XC debut) and Hannah Rehm (team debut) also ran in the field.
Unattached runner Alex Burkhart took first place with a 21:21.5. Cal State East Bay's Cecilia Carretero was the top collegiate runner in second place overall (21:33.6) and led the Pioneers to the team title.
Santa Clara had only one official entry in the men's 8-kilometer open race, Luke Davies, who took 90th place with a personal best 26:30.1. Chico State made it a sweep of the men's races by placing five runners in the top 12. Hawai'i Pacific's Rickus Jacobs took first place with a 24:38.3.
The Broncos begin championship season at the West Coast Conference Championships on Saturday, October 27 in Provo, Utah.
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