CHINO, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2014) – Junior Aditya Bhagavathi (Plainsboro, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro) ran his way to Second Team All-SCIAC recognition and senior Stephanie Reynolds (Tallahassee, Fla. / Lawton Chiles) was honored with the Celia Peterson Sportsmanship Award as the Caltech cross country teams overcame a slew of adverse conditions at the SCIAC Championships on Saturday morning.
With the course already muddied from rain overnight, a second storm started just minutes before the men's race went off at 9 a.m. and turned to a torrential downpour over the first mile, making conditions nearly unmanageable.
"Some other teams in the conference handled the adverse conditions better than us, and it is possible that midterms and some bad luck played a role in our performances today," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "I'm confident it was a growth experience for both programs; we've put in some tremendous work and have high expectations for ourselves. I'm excited to see where that attitude takes us."
Bhagavathi ran among the Top 10 early in the race before fading back a bit. His eventual place of 19th marked a 16-place and near-minute improvement over last year's finish in considerably better conditions, and earned him the program's first All-Conference honor since 2009.
"Although it wasn't the race Aditya was hoping for, it says a lot about his improvement this year that he viewed his finish as a disappointment," Raphelson said.
Senior Ian Koss (Fort Collins, Colo. / Poudre) followed Bhagavathi in 43rd place, with seniors Jared Forte (Lake Elsinore, Calif. / Elsinore) and Juan Adame (Sylmar, Calif. / Sylmar Math, Science, Technology Magnet) coming in at 49th and 63rd, respectively. Junior Alexander Anemogiannis (Atlanta, Ga. / Marist School) rounded out the scoring in 73rd place as the men placed seventh in the nine-team field – just 11 points behind the University of Redlands – which clinched a tie for sixth place with the University of La Verne in the overall conference standings.
Junior Elliot Simon (Alexandria, Va. / Thomas Jefferson) and senior Eric Martin (The Woodlands, Texas / The Woodlands College Park), who endured a trio of unfortunate falls in the sloppy conditions, finished close behind at 86th and 87th. Forte ran just 10 seconds off his personal-best set two weeks prior at the SCIAC Multi-Duals, while Simon just managed to get under his previous personal best at 29:29.73.
"Jared and Elliot had excellent races," Raphelson said. "For them both to run so close to their seasonal bests in such difficult conditions showed tremendous grit. Although Mark Lorden and Fabian Boemer weren't in the Top-7, they had two of the most significant races in my eyes. Both missed almost the entire season due to injury and have worked extremely hard to keep up their fitness. I was glad that they got to see their hard work pay off. For Fabian, it was the longest race of his career, and Mark nearly ran an all-time best on the course despite the mud and rain."
By the time the women's race got underway, the course had been churned up significantly by the 128 men's runners. Reynolds and freshman Caroline Atyeo (Parkland, Fla. / Marjory Stoneman Douglas) suffered early falls but picked themselves up to push for strong finishes, with Reynolds moving up from roughly 80th to place 39th and Atyeo placing 89th. Sophomores Gauri Shastri (West Lafeyette, Ind. / West Lafayette Jr.-Sr.) and Emily Mazo (Bala Cynwyd, Pa. / Harriton) came in 90th and 101st, respectively, while freshman Gillian Kopp (Boulder, Colo. / Boulder) scored in fifth place at 108th overall.
"We had some bad luck in the women's race, but I'm quite proud of how Stephanie responded after an unfortunate fall early in the race," Raphelson said. "I think her determination showed why she was deserving of the Celia Peterson Award."
Following the race, Reynolds was presented with the Celia Peterson Sportsmanship Award, which is named after the initial SCIAC champion in 1977 and is given annually to the senior athlete who best exemplifies the conference's high ideals during her association with SCIAC Cross Country. It is voted on by coaches prior to the Championships based on student-athletes' ability, leadership, determination, sportsmanship and academics.
Raphelson and the Beavers will look ahead to the NCAA West Regional, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15 at Willamette University in Salem, Ore.