Sept. 14, 2013
By: Andrew Rich
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State's men's and women's cross country teams kicked off their 2013 campaign with strong overall team finishes at the Fresno State Invitational at Woodward Park, the first home meet since the 2006 WAC Championships. The men put three runners in the top ten to finish second overall and the women placed three in the top 11 to finish third overall.
The men were led by Danny Vartanian's fourth-place finish. The senior out of Buchanan High finished the four-mile race in 19:58.7. He was joined in the top ten by Chriss Grimble and Kevin Poythress. Grimble ran a 20:12.3 to finish seventh and Poythress finished in 20:15.8 to take tenth. Their performances were key to helping the 'Dogs hold off Cal State Fullerton (63) for a 61-point second-place finish.
Cal Poly took home the men's team title with a total of 18 points.
"We knew Cal Poly would be a tough challenge and they are a highly ranked team in the West Region and you can expect them to be at the national meet," head coach Sean McManus said. "We were focused on winning the rest of the meet because Cal State Fullerton is a team that is neck and neck with us and San José State is a conference rival."
Vartanian's strong finish saw him go toe-to-toe with the top Cal Poly runners for the first two loops around the four-mile course at Woodward Park. By the third and final loop, the senior was running to hold off Cal State Fullerton's Gilbert Solorza who he eventually beat by four seconds.
"The two first guys (from Cal Poly) were national qualifiers and really good guys," Vartanian said. "Running against them at races like this is really going to help us in the long run."
Annemarie Schwanz, a sophomore from Germany, finished the 5K women's race in 18:19.3 to finish fourth. After the first loop, she was right on the tails of the leaders before finishing ten seconds behind Cal Poly's Ashley Bergstrom. Saylah Barserian (19:00.7) and Julianne Jacques (19:15.4) finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Fresno State placed five runners in the top 21. As a team, the 'Dogs placed third out of six teams with 58 points.
"For the first race it was alright," Schwanz said. "We went out for the first two miles really fast and I was dying in the end, but for the first time this season it was okay."
Senior Carina Mendoza, who is redshirting this season, ran unattached and finished in third with a time of 18:18.5.
The meet helped serve as a practice run for next season when the 'Dogs will host the Mountain West Championships at Woodward.
"We haven't hosted a meet in a few years so I think this was important for our coaches and our facilities crew and for everybody to say okay, now we know how to lay it out and how to tweak things to make it a little better'," McManus said. "It was great to have a home event and to preview what we think will be the Mountain West course and give our kids a chance to race on it."
Fresno State will be back in action in two weeks when they will compete at the Stanford Invitational.
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