Terre Haute, Ind. - California junior Kelsey Santisteban became the highest finishing Golden Bear in school history, placing 10th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
By finishing 10th overall, Santisteban earned All-American honors, becoming the first Golden Bear to receive the prestigoius accolade since Deborah Maier and Chelsea Reilly finished in the top 40 at NCAAs in 2011.
Santisteban finished the prestigious event with a time of 20:21.7 in the 6,000-meter race.
"Kelsey had an magical season aiming for her best at NCAA's," said California Director of Track & Field / Head Cross Country Coach Tony Sandoval. "She worked all her regular season races on improving the last portion of her race especially the last 400. She ran aggressively, but with poise and was with the top 15 the last 3K. She ran with the best to the end with a number a good runners struggling with the conditions."
"Becoming an All American is a dream come true for Kelsey," Sandoval added. "For her to finish 10th and become the highest finisher at NCAA's in Cal history is a great accomplishment. Deborah Maier and Kirsten O'Hara were multi-time All Americans and legends in Cal history. Kelsey future at Cal and beyond is skies the limit."
The junior was competing in the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the third time in three seasons. It was her second race on the course in Terre Haute, Ind. this season , after competing in the Pre-Nationals event in October.
"The conditions in Terre Huate were the one of the most challenging NCAA cross country meets since Ames 2003, Waterloo 2003, and Milwaukee 1985 that I've experienced at Cal," Sandoval said. "The temperature at race time was 32 but the winds were 18-20 mph. Standing water and muddy spots throughout the course were worse after the men's 10K. Kelsey ran with half inch spikes and her shoes taped to her feet to prevent the mud from pulling her spike off."
The junior had earned a berth in the sport's most prestigious event after she placed fifth in the NCAA Cross Country Regionals at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento last Friday. Santisteban completed the 6,000-meter course in 19:29 to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
She was one of 38 individuals that were selected to participate in the NCAA Championships through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process. All individual qualifiers finished in the top-25 in their region.
Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino captured the NCAA Individual crown with a time of 20:00.3 in the race.
Saturday's NCAA meet was the final competition of the fall for the Cal cross country team.