As cheers resonated at the UC Riverside Cross Country Invitational last Saturday, men’s PPXC asserted their dominance, placing 11th overall—one spot above rival CMS and better than any other team in Division III. On Wednesday, the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) ranked P-P 26th in D III and first in the West Region.
“We knew Saturday was our day,” Paul Balmer PO ’12 said with a shrug, “and by Scott, I think we executed perfectly. This [USTFCCCA ranking] says it all.”
With opening mile times as hasty as 4:55, the Sagehen harriers hit the ground running and never let up. The team’s top five runners finished with an average time of 25:35 over the eight-kilometer course.
Colin Flynn PZ ’12 completed the race in 25:29.8 followed by Anders Crabo PO ’12 in 25:32.5 and Balmer in 25:34.7.
Chasing Balmer came the second half of the top seven. Alex Johnson PZ ’13 and George “Ben” Michaels PO ’15 rounded out the top-five scoring team, with Johnson clocking 25:36.6 and Michaels 25:43.5. Completing the top seven were Alex Johann PO ’14 in 25:46.2 and James Muller PO ’13 in 26:18.1.
Despite CMS’s recent dominance in cross country, P-P’s scoring times were good enough to beat the Stags—who finished 12th in the race—by 47 points.
“You know, we came in today with big goals and faith in the training we’ve put in,” Johann said. “I’m ecstatic to have defeated CMS… I just knew it was a question of when our hard work would pay off.”
The top seven runners from the UC Riverside meet will compete in this weekend’s Stanford Invitational as the top team in the West.