Captains Brian Trejo and Tyler Deniston led the SF State men’s cross country team to its fourth straight win at the San Francisco State Invitational Friday afternoon. Zuleima Jimenez finished third in the women’s race to lead her team to a fourth place finish in the event held at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park.
“It turned out about how I thought it would. I thought we were the strongest team,” said head coach Tom Lyons.
The Gator men were led by Trejo’s fifth place finish among collegiate runners. Trejo ran the 8-km course, which twisted around the polo grounds and along John F. Kennedy Drive, in 25 minutes,37 seconds. Deniston and sophomore Bruk Assefa also finished in the top ten out of the 164 runners competing.
This is the only home event SF State will host this year. The Gators are especially happy to have defended their home turf.
“You put on an event, boy it’s just great to be able to win,” said Lyons.
The Gator men have won each of their four meets this year. While no runner on the team has finished first in any event, the Gators win through consistent competitive times throughout the squad. Three different runners have led the team in four meets.
The women’s team, on the other hand, have a clear frontrunner who has emerged. Jimenez has been the top Gator in three of the four events this year. Jimenez ran with the lead pack for the entirety of Friday’s race, before fading slightly in the final mile to finish the 6-km course behind independent runner Alicia Freese and Alice Baker of the University of San Francisco.
“At the beginning I had all this adrenaline and I think that kind of caught up to me,” Jimenez said.
“We have a good group of interchangeable, there’s just a good pack and that group has just gotten better… that really helped us out today,” Lyons said.
The course was soft and slow due to the rains earlier in the week. Lyons believes that his teams’ familiarity with running in Golden Gate Park paid dividends in Friday’s meet.
“We run here once a week. They know every molehill, every ditch. I think it does help,” Lyons said.
Gator pride was on display at the meet. The SF State softball and men’s basketball team came out to support the runners. Their raucous cheering gave the event an energy not normally found at a cross country meet.
“It was really cool to be able to cheer with the basketball team,” Trejo said. “To have them cheer us on definitely helps in the race…you hear them cheering, you’re like ‘I gotta go.’”
The Gators hope to continue their success when they compete in the Santa Clara Invitational on Oct. 15 in Sunnyvale.