LOS ANGELES (Sept. 30, 2017) – The Caltech Men's and Women's Cross Country teams competed at the SCIAC Multi-Duals in La Mirada Park on Friday, when the women posted the best overall team finish in program history, beating four SCIAC schools for the first time ever.
"Today showed that we’re heading in the right direction, but there’s plenty of season left," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "Everyone in the conference is focused on using the next four weeks to get better. Our goal is to work hard but also smart and arrive at the Championship Meet a stronger team than we were today."
While the Beavers' last meet in Riverside saw freshman Molly Crotteau (Chicago, Ill. / Payton) lead the team with fellow freshman Claire Hu (Palo Alto, Calif. / Henry M. Gunn) just seconds behind, the two runners reversed roles on Friday, this time with Hu finishing first (23:03.35) and 18th overall in a field of 119 runners. Crotteau finished 21st, clocking in at 23:16.59. Sophomores Jena Srikanth (Fresno, Calif. / Clovis North) and Skye Reese (Concord, N.H. / Concord) were the only Beavers on either side to set personal bests coming in at 23:58.70 and then 25:06.71 to finish third and sixth on the team. Freshman Krystal Brodsky (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) placed fourth for Caltech (24:25.07). As a team, the Beavers finished right in the middle of the field, ahead of regionally ranked Whittier College, the University of La Verne, Chapman University and California Lutheran University.
With the added pressure of going up against a field comprised entirely of other SCIAC schools, the women's team flourished despite imperfect conditions and a comparatively slower course than the one they ran at Riverside.
"The women responded well to the challenge that today presented," Raphelson said. "They really fought for every place and that led to a pretty sterling result.”
Having had two years to develop under Raphelson, Reese and Srinkrath, both of whom set their previous top times at Riverside, are beginning to see results in addition to their hard work paying off. Freshman Sirisha Gudavalli (Boulder, Colo. / Fairview) placed fifth on the team and junior Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) ran seventh to round out the top seven on the women's side.
"Skye and Jena have both learned a lot when it comes to taking care of their bodies and preventing injuries," Raphelson said. "We’re starting to see their true ability now that they’re stringing together consistent weeks of training."
The men, facing the more extreme conditions temperature-wise having gone earlier in the day, still fared well in the face of SCIAC competition. Sophomore Simon Ricci (Chicago, Ill. / Latin School of Chicago) led the way once again, working his way up through the field to cross the finish line at 27:09.70, good for 21st out of 113 competitors. Fellow sophomore Tanner Moore (Roseville, Calif. / Oakmont) turned in another steady performance as well, finishing just 21 seconds off of Ricci. Freshman Matthew Earney (San Diego, Calif. / Del Norte) continued his emergence as one of the team's top runners, coming in at 28:31.12 to finish 55th. Junior Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) (59th), freshman Davis Tardif (Roswell, Ga. / Roswell) (75th) sophomore Bhairav Chidambaram (San Diego, Calif. / Canyon Crest Acad.) (77th) and freshman Spencer Morgenfeld (Palo Alto, Calif. / Palo Alto) (80th) rounded out the top seven for the Beavers.
“We had many men run solid today, including a large pack that managed to move steadily through the field together," Raphelson said. "That lead to some strong results, but we’ll need to tighten up the gaps between our top seven in order for us to meet our goals this season."
Raphelson and the Beavers will have the next two weeks to cool down before participating in the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, where they will be competing against many of the same schools they faced on Saturday. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7:45 a.m. with the men racing first.