REDLANDS, Calif. (Sept. 2, 2017) – The Caltech men's and women's cross country teams opened the 2017 season with a promising showing at the University of Redlands Invitational on Saturday morning.
Temperatures were already in the 90s despite the early 8 a.m. race time, providing for considerably suboptimal conditions. Still, several freshmen enjoyed successful debuts, while a number of returners experienced a breakthrough as their hard work over the summer paid off. The host Bulldogs and Beavers were the only Division III teams in attendance, leaving them to match up with DII and other competition in a field almost twice as large as last year.
Rookie Molly Crotteau (Chicago, Ill. / Payton) paced the women's team in finishing fifth overall and tops among DIII competitors at the shortened 4.5km distance. Classmates Claire Hu (Palo Alto, Calif. / Henry M. Gunn) and Krystal Brodsky (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) placed 12th and 22nd, respectively, while junior Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) led the returning core in 33rd. Jessica Ye (Lutherville Timonium, Md. / Dulaney) was the fourth Beaver to make her debut as a handful of others missed out due to injury or abbreviated training.
"Molly and Claire ran toward the front with poise," Raphelson said. "Melissa put in some strong work midway through the race to move up considerably."
Sophomore Tanner Moore (Roseville, Calif. /Oakmont) turned in a sterling performance to finish runner-up overall in the 6k race, even trimming 25 seconds from his rookie time despite the tougher conditions. Biding his time behind the leaders through the first half of the race, he picked off opponents to reach third with roughly 400 meters remaining and nearly ran down the eventual winner in a frantic dash down the straightaway. Freshman Matthew Earney (San Diego, Calif. / Del Norte) topped an extensive list of newcomers in 13th place overall, with classmate Spencer Morgenfeld (Palo Alto, Calif. / Palo Alto) not far behind in 21st. One of the most noticeable performances came from sophomore Bhairav Chidambaram (San Diego, Calif. / Canyon Crest Acad.), who slotted in fourth on the squad in 21st overall with an average mile below six minutes for the second time in his career. Rookies Davis Tardif (Roswell, Ga. / Roswell), Jacob Ressler-Craig (Atlanta, Ga. / St. Pius X Catholic), Michael Brown (New Orleans, La. / Isidore Newman), Alex Popov (Tarrytown, N.Y. / Hackley School) and Daniel Rostovstev (Swarthmore, Pa. / Strath Haven) also made their collegiate debuts.
"Overall, we wanted to execute the race in a way that would translate to the longer distances we'll be racing for the remainder of the season," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "That meant emphasizing a controlled start. As with every year, this was a great learning experience and a fun opportunity to see everyone in a Caltech uniform again or for the first time."
Raphelson and the Beavers will welcome back the rest of the team in advance of the UC Riverside Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 16.