Running in the heat dictated the pace for the Chapman cross-country team, which struggled on Saturday at the UC Riverside Invitational.
The Panthers competed in stifling high-90 degree heat. The men placed 10th of 11 and the women placed 16th of 18.
“When I crossed the finish line, three girls around me passed out,” said sophomore runner Emily Ralston. “Other girls even threw up.”
Ralston was the top finisher for the women in the 5k, coming in 85th place with a time of 20:17.7. Behind Ralston were sophomore Charlie Truax (160th), freshman Avalon Darlaki (162th), freshman Marisol Diaz (169th) and junior Garcia Paulette (204th).
“We ran hard and competed well, but the heat without a doubt affected our times,” said assistant coach Brett Halvaks.
The men were led by freshman Chris Reid, who came in 67th, with a time of 28:28.3 in the 8k. Following Reid were sophomore Spencer Berry (107th), freshman Shaun Yee (127th), sophomore Chad King (137th), freshman Josh Nudelman (142nd) and freshman Connor Hague (155th).
“Before the race, I was hoping to have a better time than in last week’s race because this course is much easier to run, but the heat made that very difficult,” Reid said. “I don’t think anyone had the time that they were hoping for.”
Although this showing by a very young Chapman cross-country program was not a success, one of the bright spots for the women came in finishing ahead of Division-I Pepperdine.
“We are taking things meet by meet, always trying to get better, and not repeat any mistakes we make,” Ralston said.
For a young team like Chapman, the change from high school to college can be somewhat of a shock. For the men, the races distance increases from 5k, about 3.1 miles, to 8k, almost 5 miles.
“You just have to make sure you pace yourself. The race is almost twice as long, and it can be easy to go too fast at the start and die at the end,” said Reid.
Halvaks said the runners felt more comfortable with the 8k distance at the Saturday meet.
“Even though their times may not have been what they wanted to, partially due to the heat, they are getting more and more used to the longer distance,” Halvaks said.
The team is full of newcomers, only returning six runners from last year. Ralston described the season as a rebuilding year.
Ralston and Reid, both underclassmen, have been the top finishers for the Panthers at each meet so far this year. Although Ralston is a sophomore, she too is a newcomer after spending last year as a member of the crew team.
Next weekend, the Panthers have their last tournament of the year at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational before beginning their first year in the SCIAC. They will face several SCIAC opponents at a meet on October 12.