Gator cross country teams earn top spots at Crystal Springs Invitational

SF State
SF State Gators' women cross country team competed at the Crystal Springs Invitational at Belmont, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. The Gators' women team won second place. Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / Xpress

The SF State cross country teams placed in the top three at the Crystal Springs Invitational Saturday morning as the Gators hosted their second and final home invitational of the year.

The women’s team, who have been battling through sickness, were able to come out on top taking second place with an overall score of 45.

Junior Zuleima Jimenez led the women’s team as she placed third overall with a time of 22:56.

Jimenez felt great after her race and is happy to see the women’s team improved before conference championships in La Jolla, Calif.

“I needed that mental breakthrough,” Jimenez said. “Everybody is pulling together. We’re getting all the sickness out of the way.”

SF State
SF State Gators' Zuleima Jimenez finished third in the six kilometer course with a time of 22 minutes and 56 seconds during the Crystal Springs Invitational in Belmont, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / Xpress

The women’s team finished second behind nationally ranked Humboldt State. Sophomore Kaylie Belk placed seventh with a time of 23:43 to slot the Gators into second place.

Juniors Alicia Trujillo and Monique Diaz finished in the top 20 with senior and co-captain Sue Choi coming in with a time of 24:31 to close out the top five scores for the Gators.

After a strong showing at the Charles Bowles Invitational last week, the men’s team came in third with a score of 102.

Co-captain and senior Brian Trejo led the Gators with a time of 27:10. Trejo placed 12th overall, facing strong competition from LA Trade Tech and Humboldt State.

Trejo was glad to get back on the course after dealing with an achilles injury earlier in the season.

“It’s definitely one of the toughest courses I’ve ever run,” Trejo said. “You got to put your big boy pants on and just suck it up on those hills out there. It was nice to be able to run without feeling any pain in my leg.”

Senior Ernesto Rodriguez was close behind Trejo, finishing in 14th place with a time of 27:14.

The men’s team recently improved to a No. 26 national ranking in the NCAA Division II poll. With CCAA conference championships just two weeks away, the Gators are looking to find their stride.

Head coach Tom Lyons was proud of Trejo and Rodriguez’s progess today.

“Big improvement, they looked fantastic,” Lyons said. “For our team to do really well in conference and regionals, we need those two guys. Today was really about those two guys.”

The Gators will make one last stop before CCAA championships at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational on Oct. 13th. Both teams will be gearing up for a spot to move onto NCAA Division II West Regionals in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 3.