SAN FRANCISCO- A youthful UC Santa Cruz Cross Country squad opened the 2019 season at the USF Invitational at Golden Gate Park. Running against Division I athletes, the Banana Slugs held their own with several personal bests.
"This was a great opening day," said head coach David Klech. "We had 13 freshman make their UC Santa Cruz debuts and they did not disappoint."
Izzy Heart led the UCSC women, with the freshman finishing the 6K in 23:11.5, good for 43rd out of 93 runners. Riley Martel-Phillips was 57th in 23:36.8 and fellow freshman Ella Ruff was 61st in 23:51.5 to lead the Slug contingent.
"The Women sat a few of our top returners this weekend, so it was really our freshmen vs Regionally Ranked Division 1 programs," Klech explained. "Izzy was outstanding, running the 14th best time in UC Santa Cruz program history in her debut. Riley, Ella, Ashley, and Annette were really strong and should be able to make instant contributions this season."
"Pablo and Hayden were spectacular," Klech said. "We knew it was going to be challenging to replace some of our graduating seniors but these two raced like veterans."
Rounding out UCSC's top five runners were senior Solomon Reinman (48th; 27:12.1), freshman Kyle Henricson (51st; 27:20.2) and sophomore Robert Udell (53rd; 27:25.9). The Banana Slugs will next run at the Kim Duyst Invite in Turlock on September 14th.
"We have two weeks to really continue to build before we race all of our top Men and Women and get a good idea of where we are at, but based on this weekend the future is bright."