Things are looking good for USF men’s and women’s cross country. The women’s team have been picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference in 2017-2018 pre-season polls. USF trailed leader BYU by only 6 points. It’s no surprise, looking at what a success USF women’s last season was. The Dons competed at Nationals, where they finished sixth. Although the men’s team is not ranked nationally, they are fourth in the West Coast Conference for this upcoming season.
For teams that don’t even have their own track to practice on, that’s pretty impressive. Not only do the Dons look good on paper, but they also prove it on the course. In their invitational meet, both the women’s and men’s teams finished first overall with 17 and 36 points respectively.
This meet, the 25th Annual USF Cross Country Invitational, kicked off the 2017-2018 USF Cross Country Season.
“It’s so early, so we’ve done very little race specific work. Our goal for both women and men was just to work on pack running and execution and test your fitness over the back end,” said Helen Lehman-Winters, the USF head coach, in a USF Athletics interview. “Today was all about having some fun in our backyard and getting some good races in.”
“Good races” might be an understatement. On the women’s side, the Dons kicked out last year’s invitational winners, Cal Berkeley. USF finished first overall in their invitational meet.
The women’s team dominated and came home with seven out of the top 10 spots, including first overall by sophomore Weronika Pyzik. Pyzik was followed shortly by fellow sophomore Isabelle Brauer, senior Lizzie Bird and freshman Lea Meyer.
“It was great to see, not only the first pack in the front, but the second a few seconds behind,” Pyzik said in an interview with USF Athletics after the women’s race. “I am super excited for the season right now, because if we keep working like that, oh my gosh, the world is ours.”
The women’s side also have two students who received All-West Coast Conference Team nods, senior Charlotte Taylor and sophomore Pyzik. Standout Charlotte Taylor was not among the pack running in the Invitational.
As for the men’s team at our invitational meet, a similar story emerged. The men’s Dons finished first overall and blocked Cal Berkeley from a four-year streak. The Dons had four runners finish within the top 10 at the Invitational, including senior Mohamed Aziz, who placed first, followed by fellow senior Ben Alcock 20 seconds later.
Both the men and women continue their season with two more invitational tournaments later in September. The first is San Francisco State’s invitational held at Golden Gate Park on Sept. 22. The next day, the Dons will go to Minneapolis to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational. It will be a quick turn around for the Dons, but if anyone can handle it, we can.
Featured Photo: Mohamed Aziz won Men’s 25th Annual USF CCI