Aggies Claim Indpendent Cross Country Championships; Conley Wins Women's Race

Oct. 30, 2004

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Freshman Kim Conley set a women's three-mile course record with a first-place time of 17 minutes, 7 seconds at the Division I Independent Championships at West Guth Park as UC Davis claimed both the men's and women's team championships in their first-ever appearances at the meet.

Senior Priscilla Moreno overtook a pair of competitors over the final 600 meters to finish fourth in 17:22 for another Aggie highlight, helping UC Davis score 52 points, just three points ahead of defending champion Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. North Dakota State was third with 87 points and Utah Valley State took fourth with 97. South Dakota State, Texas-Pan American and Northern Colorado were fifth through seventh, respectively.

Jorge Murillo led the Aggie men with an impressive second-place showing in the five-mile race, finishing just six seconds behind winner Hector Gandara of Texas-Pan American. Murillo crossed the line in 25:44, leading a dominating UC Davis performance.

UC Davis tallied just 35 points, easily beating North Dakota State which was second with 59. South Dakota State took third with 93 and was followed by Texas-Pan American, Utah Valley State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Sophomore Chris Ferren-Cirino finished fifth for UC Davis in 26:05, senior Will Merchad fought exhaustion and took seventh in 26:07 and junior Tony Ahr was 10th in 26:22. Tim Helms (26:31), Matt Cooley (26:35) and Patrick Parsel (26:41) were 11th, 12th and 15th, respectively, as UC Davis rolled to the team title.

"We had great performances from one through seven," said UC Davis coach Jason Jaques. "The guys ran fantastic."



UC Davis had a split of just 47 seconds among its top five runners and only 57 seconds among its entire team.

Conley led UC Davis in each of its past two races entering the championships and continued that on Saturday with a two-second win over Amanda Olsen of Utah Valley State.

"Kim had an outstanding performance," said Jaques. "She ran a very, very smart race." Moreno used a strong finish to place fourth, junior Michelle Solone was 11th in 17:58 and Eva Gut took 17th in 18:14. Freshman Lorin Scott was 19th in 18:20, freshman Sarah Stacionis finished 21st in 18:23 and Kelsey Kaiser was 27th in 18:36.

"It was a very good team effort," said Jaques. "The conditions were a little bit difficult to handle but they ran outstanding."

Conley, Moreno and Solone each earned all-conference honors with their finishes on Saturday while Murillo, Ferren-Cirino, Merchad and Ahr were all-conference for the men. Jason Jaques earned Coach of the Year honors for the both the men's and women's teams. Jaques also credited his assistant coach Chris Puppione.

Saturday's race was open to Division I schools not affiliated with conferences. During its reclassification to NCAA Division I status, UC Davis is ineligible for NCAA Championship competition and Saturday's meet served as one of three 'postseason' races for the Aggies this year. UC Davis becomes an official member of the Big West Conference in 2007.

UC Davis is off until competing in the USATF Pacific Association Championships at San Francisco on Nov. 21.

Division I Independent Cross Country Championships Corpus Christi, Texas West Guth Park

MEN Team standings - 1. UC Davis 35, 2. North Dakota State 59, 3. South Dakota State 93, 4. Texas-Pan American, 106; 5. Utah Valley State 113, 6. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 121.

Individual (top 5 plus UCD) - 1. Hector Gandara, TPA, 25:38; 2. Jorge Murillo, UCD, 25:44; 3. Mark Lott, UCS, 25:48; 4. Chris Hagan, NDSU, 25:52; 5. Chris Ferren-Cirino, UCD, 26:05... 7. Will Merchad, 26:07; 10. Tony Ahr, 26:22; 11. Tim Helms, 26:31; 12. Matt Cooley, 26:35; 15. Patrick Parsel, 26:41.

WOMEN Team standings - 1. UC Davis 52; 2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 55; 3. North Dakota State 87; 4. Utah Valley State 97; 5. South Dakota State 105; 6. Texas-Pan American 143; 7. Northern Colorado 148.

Individual (top 5 plus UCD) - 1. Kim Conley, UCD, 17:07; 2. Amanda Olsen, UVS, 17:09; 3. Kinsey Coles, NDSU, 17:17; 4. Priscilla Moreno, UCD, 17:22; 5. Lauren Dunsmoor, UNC, 17:24... 11. Michelle Solone, 17:58; 17. Eva Gut, 18:14; 19. Lorin Scott, 18:20; 21. Sarah Stacionis, 18:23; 27. Kelsey Kaiser, 18:36.