USC's Cross Country Team To Race At Aztec Invitational On Saturday|
Sept. 13, 2012
After opening the season impressively last week at UC Irvine, the USC women's cross country team will be challenged on a much tougher course with steeper hills this week when they compete at the 68th annual San Diego State Aztec Invitational (5K) at Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif. on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8:30 a.m.
"A year ago we placed third behind Biola and UCLA and we are hoping for a top two finish this year," said USC's head cross country coach Tom Walsh when asked about the Aztec Invitational this weekend. "Some of the teams that will be battling for the top spot include Biola, UNLV, San Diego State and ourselves."
The eight Trojan runners scheduled to compete in the race are senior co-captain Kelly Owen, sophomores Shannon Byrne, Erica Capellino, Erin Robinson and Kira Soderstrom and freshmen Nicole Davies, Natasha Strickland and Jenna Tong.
"We are taking some of the freshmen and newcomers on the road this week for building team chemistry and for them to see what it is like to travel to a meet at the college level," said Walsh. "We are training through this week and most of the girls will be tired for this meet, but it is a good chance for them to race and tough it out under conditions that are not ideal."
Last season, USC placed third at the Aztec Invitational with then-freshman Erica Capellino leading the way with a second-place finish and a time of 18:27.8. Capellino's second-place finish was the best individual finish by a USC runner other than Zsofia Erdelyi since Sarah Cocco placed second at the 2008 Pepperdine Invitational.
"Erica (Capellino) finished second last year and has a good chance of finishing in the top two again," added Walsh. "She ran an excellent opener at UC Irvine and I expect her to run well even with tired legs. Our two freshmen standouts Jenna Tong and Nicole Davies get a chance to run back-to-back races on a tough course. Also, Kira Soderstrom has been training well and I expect her to have a good race on the hilly course."
Davies, who was the Trojans' third finisher last week with a time of 18:18.2 (behind Capellino - 17:43.9 and Tong - 18:04.3), will be running not far from home as she grew up in Coranado and attended Coronado High.