Women's Cross Country
    Trojans Open Season With A Second-Place Finish At UC Irvine Invitational
    Sophomore Erica Capellino had a PR of 17:43.9 today to lead USC to a second-place finish at the UC Irvine Invitational.
    Sophomore Erica Capellino had a PR of 17:43.9 today to lead USC to a second-place finish at the UC Irvine Invitational.

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    IRVINE, CALIF. - Sophomore Erica Capellino led the USC women's cross country team in its first race of the season to a second-place finish at the 5K UC Irvine Invitational today (Sept. 8) in Irvine, Calif. USC's top three finishers set personal-bests and seven of the Trojans' top eight finishers were underclassmen.

    "We beat some good teams. I'm happy with the second place finish," said USC's head coach Tom Walsh. "I was aiming for a top four finish and am really pleased to get second. Our top three runners set PRs which is huge. Erica (Capellino) ran the best race of her life and the two freshmen Jenna (Tong) and Nicole (Davies) were very aggressive and showed a lot of heart in their first race as Trojans."

    Capellino placed eighth with a PR of 17:43.9, her first 5K race under 18 minutes, USC has raced at the UC Irvine Invitational the last four seasons and in five of the last seven seasons and Capellino's time and finish are the best by a Trojan in that span at the event. Also setting PRs in their first races as Trojans were freshmen Jenna Tong who finished 13th (12 in scoring) with a time of 18:04.3 and Nicole Davies who took 19th (18 in scoring) with a time of 18:18.2.

    "Having three girls under 18:30 is an impressive start for this group and when you add Shelby (Buckley) and Katerina (Berdousi) to that group it makes a nice top five," said Walsh.

    USC's fourth finisher was sophomore Erin Robinson who placed 30th (26 in scoring) with a time of 18:44.3, followed by sophomore Kira Soderstrom in 33rd (28th in scoring) with a time of 18:47.6. Robinson beat her time at last season's UCI Invite by 10 seconds and Soderstrom bettered her time from a year ago by 21 seconds.

    "To get our top five runners in the top 28 finishers was great for us," added Walsh. "The good depth was the key for us."

    Redshirt senior Shelby Buckley was next for USC finishing 37th (31st in scoring) with a time of 18.52. USC's final runner to figure in the scoring was freshman Natasha Strickland who was 57th (51 in scoring) with a time of 19:18.9.

    The rest of the Trojan squad competing at Irvine were redshirt sophomore Katie DeYoung (60th, 19.21.6), sophomore Erin Matranga (61st, 19:23.1), senior Kelly Owen (96th, 20:00.7), sophomore Shannon Byrne (112, 20:22), sophomore Austin Lundin (126, 20:39.8) and redshirt sophomore Jackie Mansky (138, 21:09.2).

    The meet was won by No. 11 Arkansas which had a perfect score of 15. USC took second with 92 points and the rest of the teams and how they finished were: 3.) CS San Marcos - 117, 4.) Loyola Marymount - 133, 5.) Azusa Pacific - 141, 6.) Long Beach State - 169, 7.) The Master's - 221, 8.) Cal Baptist - 228, 9.) UC San Diego - 243, 10.) UC Irvine - 252, 11.) Grand Canyon - 259, 12.) CS Northridge - 284, 13.) Central Arizona - 313, 14.) CS San Bernardino - 349.

    The Trojans will be competing next week at the San Diego State Aztec Invitational in San Diego, Calif. on Sept. 15 at 8 a.m..