Photo: Jeremy Kniffin
CLAREMONT, Calif. (Nov. 2, 2019) – The Caltech men's cross country team took fifth at the 2019 SCIAC Championships on Saturday, matching last year's ranking with another complete showing.
Senior Simon Ricci (Chicago, Ill. / Latin School of Chicago) led the way for Caltech. The senior ran boldly alongside the lead pack for much of the race and fought his way to a 17th-place 25:50.30, securing All-SCIAC status for the second time in as many years. Ricci also took home the Ray Adkinson Character Award, joining former teammate Rohan Choudhury '19 as the second Beaver to win the honor in as many years while helping Caltech sweep the sportsmanship awards in 2019.
"I thought that Simon's honors today said a lot about him," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "He is a great runner in his own right who also impacts people and teams in other ways as well. They were well-deserved."
Sophomore Gaurav Phanse (Fremont, Calif. / Dublin) also played an important role in the Beavers' fifth-place finish. After battling illness in the early part of the year, Phanse delivered his best race of the season, a 22nd-place 26:01.00 that brought him within two seconds of repeating as Second Team All-SCIAC. Phanse's time also marks a 41-second improvement on his last outing at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational three weeks ago. Senior Tanner Moore (Roseville, Calif. / Oakmont) took 33rd in the final SCIAC Championship race of his career, crossing the finish line at 26:33.40.
The Beavers' remaining finishers within the top seven ran close together throughout the race with little separation between them. Freshman Kyle Piper (Lafayette, Colo. / Centaurus) led the group in his SCIAC Championship debut (27:50.9) and would be followed by senior David Fager (Miami, Fla. / Belen Jesuit Prep) (27:51.4), junior Spencer Morgenfeld (Palo Alto, Calif. / Palo Alto) (27:55.8) and junior Matthew Earney (San Diego, Calif. / Del Norte) (27:56.5). Collectively, each member of the group improved upon their time at Pomona-Pitzer back in October, with the exception of Piper who ran for the first time since the Master's Invitational in September.
"The team really rose to the occasion today," Raphelson said. "It's always challenging to perform well at this meet during midterms but I think they did a great job balancing those demands and racing well."
The Beavers had several more time drops and season-bests moving down the lineup. Senior Bhairav Chidambaram (San Diego, Calif. / Canyon Crest Acad.) ended his Caltech career on a high note with a 17-second PR (28:26.5), beating out his previous top time from more than two years ago. Classmate Tiger Lu (Shanghai, China / Shanghai American School Puxi) followed Chidambaram with a 29:10.70, and sophomore Kellen Rodriguez (Fairmont, Minn. / Fairmont) broke 30 minutes for the first time ever with his 29:51.20. Junior Haoyuan Sun (Alexandria, Va. / Thomas Jefferson Science & Tech.) topped his Pomona-Pitzer time by four seconds (30:32.10), while freshman Marcos Perez (North Hollywood, Calif. / North Hollywood) clocked in behind him at 31:20.00. Classmate Emile Timothy Anand (Dubai, United Arab Emirates / Cambridge International School) made his collegiate debut (34:19.00) and sophomore August Chen (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) rounded out the list of Caltech competitors (36:27.80).
Raphelson and the Beavers' top-seven finishers will look to build on their SCIAC showing at the NCAA Division III West Regional Championships, set to be held at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Saturday, Nov. 16.