Cross country runs wild in Palo Alto

by Louis LaVenture,
News and Campus Editor

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With a new coach at the helm, it’s been a fresh start for the men and women’s cross country teams at Cal State East Bay.

On Saturday, both squads competed in the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto along with 29 other schools. The women finished in 26th place overall and 8th among NCAA Division II teams. The men finished the day 30th overall and 12th among their Division II opponents.

This is just the third event of the year for the Pioneers under the guidance of first-year Head Coach Tony Nicolosi, who was hired in July by new CSUEB Athletic Director Joan McDermott.

Nicolosi coached at Division II Western Colorado State University and McDermott was the athletic director at Metropolitan State in Denver; both schools are in the Regional Mountain Athletic Conference.

“She came to East Bay from the conference I was coaching in, the RMAC, and it got me excited about a chance to get the job,” Nicolosi said.

The teams are showing massive improvement under his watch. Freshman Israel Sotelo had the best finish of the day on Saturday for CSUEB, as he ended the meet 163rd out of 283 runners with a time of 26:19.10 in his second career 8k distance race.

“It was uncomfortable for me because I didn’t have the opportunity to preview the course,” Sotelo said. “During the race I had difficulty gauging where I was on the course, how far I had run and how far I had left to run. But I just tried to enjoy the race and take advantage of what it gave me, it’s no small thing running next to some of the fastest runners in the nation and that’s humbling.”

Sophomore Zach Kanlong had the second fastest time for CSUEB after he posted a 27:39.10 which placed him 252nd overall. Fellow sophomore Kyle Fetter took third for the Pioneers with a time of 27:50.40 and a 258th place finish overall.

“In a big race like that one, you can’t think about who you’re running against, you have to run your race,” Kanlong said. “In shorter races you can get out faster, but in an 8k you really have to pace yourself and use your head.”

The women also performed well, led by senior Imani Heath who took home 122nd place with a time of 23:14. Sophomore Kandace Compton finished second for CSUEB and 185th overall in 24:12.50. Junior and Hayward High School alum Camille Hansen rounded out the top three for the Pioneers in 194th place and a time of 24:27.20.

“[Heath] has worked very hard and easily had the best summer training of anyone we have on the team,” Nicolosi said. “Unfortunately she suffered a little hamstring issue during the race Saturday and I don’t think we got to see what she is truly capable of. But she will be a tough person to beat in the last couple races of the season.”

Pioneers senior Alyssa Tenney is a decorated swimmer at CSUEB and was recruited by Nicolosi to try out for the team. Tenney, who has one year left of eligibility, finished with a time of 26:24.80 which was good enough for 233rd place overall.

“We have kind of thrown her into a crash course of cross country,” Nicolosi said. “It typically takes people years to get to the level that she has gotten in just a few weeks.”

Next for both teams is a trip to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco at 9 a.m. on Oct. 9, where they will take part in the San Francisco State Invitational.