CLAREMONT, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2015) – Senior Aditya Bhagavathi (Plainsboro, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro North) qualified for the NCAA Championships for the second straight year as the Caltech men's and women's cross country teams competed at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Claremont, Calif. on Saturday.
Bhagavathi placed 13th overall to earn the final individual qualification berth from the West region, beating out the next competitor by just over a second. He placed 139th with a program-record 25:34.7 at last year's Championships in Mason, Ohio.
"Cross country is an unforgiving sport and outcomes can be unpredictable - for Aditya to qualify for his second NCAA championship in a row is a tremendous accomplishment," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said.
The veteran led the men's team – fresh off its first regional ranking in program history – to a 14th-place finish and sixth among SCIAC schools despite a pair of regular scorers dropping out of the race due to illness and injury, respectively. Placing ahead of five regional opponents marked another program first for Caltech in the regional's largest field in history.
The women's team matched its 2014 place of 18th among 19 teams, defeating Mills College by 68 points even with a significant scorer unable to finish the race due to injury.
"Our seniors really carried the day for us," Raphelson said. "They can all be proud of how they closed out the season and their careers."
Senior Jared Forte (Lake Elsinore, Calif. / Lake Elsinore) capped his Caltech career with a four-place improvement on last season, finishing 62nd overall. Classmate Alexander Anemogiannis (Atlanta, Ga. / Marist School) was worth an eight-place improvement over the Beavers' #3 finisher last year, coming in 66th, with freshman Rohan Doshi (West Windsor, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro North) and senior Mark Lorden (Brookline, N.J. / Hollis-Brookline) rounding out the scorers in 92nd and 113th place, respectively. Doshi stepped up to drop 47 seconds from the SCIAC Championships and finish in 28:42.64 while Lorden closed out his Caltech career in inspiring fashion over the past two races. The senior shaved another 32 seconds off his time at the SCIAC Championships which was already a 41-second improvement on his Multi-Duals performance to clock the only sub-30-minute 8k of his career in 29:48.25. Had freshmen Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) and Joey Hong (Milipitas, Calif. / King's Acad.) been able to complete the race, Caltech would have projected to place at least 10th and possibly ninth with the approximate 50-point improvement.
"I couldnt be happier for Mark Lorden," Raphelson said. "He delivered with the best time of his career and contributed critical points to the team score. It's everything you hope for at the end of a cross country career."
Freshman Michelle Marasigan (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / James B. Conant) paced the women's team for the second consecutive race, placing 88th overall with a personal-best 25:06.80 – the 13th-fastest time in program history. Freshman Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) improved on her SCIAC Championships time by over a full minute to place 105th in 25:51.27, while senior Rachel Thorp (La Canada, Calif. / La Canada) finished in 120th with a 15-second improvement from the SCIAC Championships. Junior Lilly Luo (Belle Mead, N.J. / Montgomery) posted a season-best 28:14.09 to place 123rd and freshman Ariel Hasse (Wasilla, Alaska) took the final scoring spot with a whopping 2:39 improvement on two weeks prior with a 29:52.27. Sophomore Caroline Atyeo (Parkland, Fla. / Marjory Stoneman Douglas), who placed just behind Gutierrez in 76th at the SCIAC Championships, was forced to drop out due to injury.
"It was nice to see Michelle put illness behind her and run her fastest 6km to date," Raphelson said. "These seniors have made a lasting impact on both programs. We'll be counting on our younger runners to build on what they've established."
Raphelson and Bhagavathi will head to the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wisc., with the men's race scheduled to start at 12:00 p.m. Central/10:00 a.m. Pacific time. Live video and results links will be available on the schedule page of GoCaltech.com as the event nears.