Women's Cross Country
    USC Takes Second at Highlander Invitational 4K Race

    The Trojans had a team huddle before the race and a total team-effort during the race to place second today at the Highlander Invitational.

    Oct. 13, 2012

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    USC's young and talented women's cross country team turned in another impressive performance by taking second place at the Highlander Invitational (4K) hosted by UC Riverside at the Ag/Ops course today (Oct. 13) in Riverside, Calif. USC has now placed second or higher in three of four races this season, this time edging Wyoming (49-54) which is ranked 13th in the Mountain Region. Host UC Riverside, which ranks 15th in the West Region, won the team competition with a score of 27 and UC Irvine took fourth with 93 points.

    Leading the Trojans around the shorter 4K course which is run primarily on packed dirt was sophomore Erica Capellino who placed fourth with a time of 13:52.2, but this was definitely a team effort. All seven of USC's runners which figured in the scoring finished in the top 23 in the race, including Capellino, redshirt senior Shelby Buckley and freshman Jenna Tong which posted top-10 finishes.

    "I was very impressed that we had three people in the top 10 and our pack at the back was solid too," said USC cross country coach Tom Walsh. "Erica ran a gutsy race, got out fast and has been very consistent all year long. Shelby and Jenna keep getting better each week and I was also very pleased with the effort of Nicole Davies and Natasha Strickland."

    Buckley was closely behind Capellino, taking sixth with a time of 13:56.1 and Tong placed ninth with a time of 14:01.6.

    USC's fourth and fifth-place finishers freshmen Nicole Davies and Natasha Strickland also had very strong races, with Davies finishing 13th with a time of 14:12.1 and Strickland placing 17th with a time of 14:24.3. Trojan freshmen Tong, Davies and Strickland were three of the top four freshmen finishers in the race, with Tong taking high honors among first-season runners.

    Sophomores Kira Soderstrom in 22nd place with a time of 14:38.3 and Erin Robinson in 23rd place with a time of 14:45.2 were the final Trojans to figure in the scoring today.

    Another Trojan sophomore posting a solid time was Erin Matranga who placed 25th with a time of 14:49.5, followed by freshman Katerina Bertousi in 27th with a time of 14:53.8, sophomore Shannon Byrne in 30th place with a time of 14:58.5, redshirt sophomore Katie DeYoung in 32nd place with a time of 15:00.7 and senior Kelly Owen in 38th place with a time of 15:09.8.

    UC Riverside has not run the 4K course very often in competition and as a result of today's race, UCR's winning runner Damajeria DuBose, who had a time of 13:32.7, established a new course record. Also, Capellino now stands fifth, Buckley seventh, Tong 10th, Davies 16th and Strickland 23rd on the all-time top 25 list for the 4K race at the Ag/ops course.

    "Any time you can beat a quality team like Wyoming, it shows that the program is headed in the right direction and that these girls are getting better."

    USC will need to be running its best in two weeks when they compete at the highly competitive Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, this year hosted by UCLA on Oct. 27 in Santa Clarita, Calif.

    Next week the Trojans will send a limited squad to compete at the Titan Invitational in Fullerton on Oct. 19.