The Dons kicked off the 2014 season at the USF Invitational on Aug. 30, where they ran to a fifth place finish. The event was held in San Francisco at the Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park.
USF’s top finisher in the meet was senior Jarrett Moore, who placed 14th overall in the eight kilometer (4.97 mile) race with a time of 25:51.3. Moore is a natural runner who did not join a cross country team until after high school, and is now in his third year on the Dons’ squad.
“That’s progress for Jarrett because he’s relatively new to the sport,” head coach Helen Lehman-Winters told usfdons.com after the invitational.
Closely following Moore was sophomore Tom Bradley, who came in just four spots behind Moore at 18th with a time of 26:03.0. The next two finishers were freshman Mohamed Aziz and sophomore Omar Solis who finished in 31st and 39th place respectively.
Various Dons runners sat out at the USF Invitational in order to conserve energy for upcoming meets. Among them was junior Eric Causey, who took first place in the invitational’s eight kilometer race the year before with a time of 25:11.5.
The women also began their season at the USF Invitational, and managed to finish in third place out of seven teams total. The only teams that outran the Dons were Stanford and UC Berkeley.
While a senior led the pack for the men’s team, it was a freshman who held that honor for the women. In her first race as a college athlete, freshman Haley Dorris finished eighth place in the five kilometer course with a time of 18:07.7.
Dorris’ rapid adjustment to collegiate cross country should not come as a surprise. She came to USF from Great Oaks High School in Temecula, Calif., where she was a major part of a team that won a Division 1 State Championship as a senior.
“She’s definitely a kid who will run in our top five as the season progresses,” Lehman-Winters told usfdons.com.
Dorris wasn’t the only Don to finish high in the race, however. Sophomore Daryl Phill ran a time of 18:19.1, and fellow sophomore Ashley Moffett was just behind her in 12th, finishing in 18:25.6.
Like the men, the women’s team elected to rest many of the team’s key runners, including junior Elena Burkard, who was the top Dons runner at the 2013 NCAA Championships, and is expected to be a leader on the team this season.
For both men’s and women’s cross country, the next meet will occur on Saturday, Sept. 13 when the Dons travel to Sunnyvale, Calif. for the West Coast Conference Preview. t