Jan. 10, 2013
SAN GIORGIO, Italy - Former UC Davis distance standouts Kim Conley and Jonathan Peterson showcased elite performances last weekend in Europe, racing to impressive finishes in a pair of international races.
Conley, currently a volunteer assistant coach with the Aggie track and field program who also ran in last summer's London Olympics, finished fourth at the Campaccio International in Italy last Saturday.
Peterson, a two-time winner of the Colby E. "Babe" Slater Award as UC Davis' top male athlete, helped represent the USA in the senior men's 8-kiometer race at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross Country Meet in Scotland, finishing 12th for the winning American team.
The Campaccio is one of the country's first major sporting events and annually attracts an international field of Olympic and World Championship participants. Conley was the top U.S. runner, crossing the finish line of the 5k race in 19 minutes, 36 seconds, just 10 seconds back of winner Degefa Worknesh of Ethiopia.
Conley was part of a close lead pack that finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Ethiopia's Afera Godfay was second, followed by Veronica Nyaruai of Kenya who edged Conley by just two seconds.
The race was Conley's only competition prior to the USATF Cross Country Championships on Feb. 2 in St. Louis, Mo.
Conley burst into national racing prominence last summer when she rallied from a seemingly insurmountable deficit to finish third in the exciting 5,000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. Her lean at the finish line also helped her capture an automatic qualifying time for the Olympics.
She participated in her first Olympics Games in August and has her sights set on the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Conley finished her outstanding Aggie career in 2009.
Peterson was part of a talented USA men's team in Scotland which was facing top runners representing Europe and also Great Britain. The American squad, led by winner Bobby Mack (24:27), a former All-American from North Carolina State, scored 49 points to beat Team Europe (65) and Team Great Britain (67).
Peterson helped close the door for the United States, placing 12th in 25:08. The Americans had their six scoring runners all among the top 12 places. Peterson had a strong finish, crossing the finish line third among a group of six runners that were separated by just six seconds.
Like Conley, Peterson will also compete at the USATF Championships next month, vying for a spot on the USA team that will go to the World Championships in Poland in March. Prior to the national championships, however, he will continue preparations by racing in the Bay Area Cross Challenge on Sunday.
Petersen enjoyed an impressive Aggie career for both the cross country and track squads, capping his senior season in 2012 by winning the 1,500 and 5,000 races at the Big West Championships and setting school records in both the 5K and 10K events.