Cal Opens Cross Country Season at USF Invitational
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  08/31/2012

Aug. 31, 2012

BERKELEY - The California men's and women's cross country teams open the 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the USF Invitational at Golden Gate Park. The women's 5K race begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by the men's 8K event at 10:15 a.m.

Held at Speedway Meadow, the Bears will race against representatives from nearly 20 schools, including Stanford, Saint Mary's Santa Clara and host USF. The course, composed primarily of grass and dirt trails with gradual uphills and downhills, is located south of 30th Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive.

Last season, Kelsey Santisteban, running in her first race as a Golden Bear, set a course record en route to winning the women's 5000-meter race at the USF Invitational in a time of 17.17. The Cal women also claimed the team title. A Golden Bear has won the individual title on the women's side each of the last three years, with Keena Kohl claiming top honors in 2009, Chelsea Reilly taking home the title in 2010, and Santisteban winning it all last season.

The men placed second as a team in last season's USF Invitational, led by Cody Schmidt's runner-up finish in a time of 24:33 for the 8000 meters.

EXPERIENCED CAL MEN'S SQUAD LOOKS TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS IN 2012: One year after being perhaps the final team left out of the NCAA Championships field, Cal returns an experienced lineup motivated to earn the program's fourth trip to the national meet since 2007. The Bears do lose two-time all-region runner Maxime Chevee to graduation, but return senior Collin Jarvis, who paced Cal in all five of his meets last fall and earned All-Pac-12 and all-region honors with top-15 finishes in both competitions. Sophomore Chris Walden is also back after taking 19th at the conference championships. Head coach Tony Sandoval expects two Bears who did not compete in 2011 - Alex Schwab and Matt Carpowich - to battle for spots in the lineup, while newcomers Leland Later and Thomas Joyce look to earn travel roster positions as freshmen.

CAL WOMEN SPORT A YOUNG SQUAD IN 2012: With a veteran lineup that featured four seniors among its top five runners, including All-Americans Deborah Maier and Chelsea Reilly, the Bears posted their highest national finish (18th) in more than 20 years last fall. However, the graduation of that leadership means Cal sports a young team this year that is long on desire, but short on experience. Junior Elisa Karhu and Santisteban, a sophomore, both participated at NCAA regionals and nationals in 2011 and are expected to run at the front of the pack this season. The list of new faces to watch includes four freshmen - Molly Babcock, Ashlyn Dadkhah, Xochi Navarrete and Mariel Mendoza - who all ranked near to the top of the state rankings in distances ranging from 1500 to 3200 meters as high school seniors.

HEAD COACH Tony Sandoval: Tony Sandoval is in his 21st season as head coach of the Cal men's and women's cross country teams and his 31st year overall at the university. Also in his sixth year as head men's and women's track & field coach, Sandoval was the head women's track & field and cross country coach at Cal from 1982-91, prior to the merger of the men's and women's programs into a single entity in 1992. He has guided the Golden Bear men's cross country team to its best finishes in school history, claiming 15th place at the NCAA championship meet in 2007, 22nd in '08 and 31st in '10. A combined nine men's and women's runners have gained All-American status under his guidance, including Yosef Ghebray, who became the third Cal male ever to earn cross country recognition in 2008. Among the women who have benefited from his coaching are Magdalena Lewy, a U.S. Olympian in the marathon in 2008 and Alysia Johnson, a U.S. Olympian in 2012 and a three-time U.S. champion in the 800 meters. The Bear women finished 15th at the 1984 NCAA meet, then returned in 1988 to take ninth place.