On Saturday, three runners represented the University of La Verne at the 2019 NCAA West Regionals held at Pomona College.
Junior Matthew Salas and freshman Alexander Medina ran the Strehle course for the men while senior Catherina Posada raced for the women’s team.
The Leopards faced competition from 18 Division III universities.
As ULV ran the course with individual runners, the runners did not earn points from their placement/finishes like the full teams did.
However, that did not stop Salas from annihilating the course with his personal best 26:15.6 which earned him 21st overall among the 111 other competitors.
Medina finished not too far behind, placing 50th overall with a time of 27:28.6.
“I thought I’d just go out with the front running guys, ride that wave and see where it takes me,” Salas said. “I gave it everything I had and I’m so proud to be here with my teammate Alex.”
Salas’s placement not only earned him All-West Region honors for the men, but he will also compete in the NCAA Championships held next week in Kentucky.
Among stiff competition, the men’s competition saw sophomore champion from Pomona-Pitzer, Ethan Widlansky finish his home course in nearly 25 minutes flat.
Junior runner Tucker Cargile of Redlands placed second in the men’s wave with a time of 25:14.5 with junior runner from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Stevie Steinberg, gathering his third place medal with his time of 25:16.8.
“I got 21st, but I started out in the top 15 and I gave it my all to compete. Just on this given day they beat me but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be better than me if I qualify for nationals,” Salas said.
Pomona-Pitzer took control of its home field and finished first as a team with CMS unhappily having to take home second. UC Santa Cruz made their mark on Regionals as their program placed third overall in the men’s wave.
Medina, in his first season with the program, opened up about what it meant for his hard work to pay off and be at Regionals.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here because everything has been leading up to this big race,” Medina said.
Posada, also in her rookie season on the cross-country team, managed to qualify for Regionals thanks to her performance two weeks ago at the SCIAC meet.
Posada finished the course in 24:37.6, placing 62nd overall.
Junior runner Whitney Rich of Whitman lead the women’s wave with her time of 21:12. Pomona-Pitzer duo however emerged to claim second and third place at the competition.
Sophomore Lila Cardillo finished second in 21:29.6 with her senior teammate Helen Guo 21:40.70 able to round out the top three.
CMS sought and won vengeance for the men, taking home first place as a group overall in the women’s wave while Pomona-Pitzer wallowed in the second place slot.
Occidental surprisingly came out to steal third place overall.
With Salas confirmed through to Nationals, head coach Justin Wood is excited yet anxious as to get Salas prepped for his first national title race.
“We’re leaving on Thursday so we really only have a couple days to prepare for nationals,” Wood said. “It’s all about recovering, working on strategies and just a bit of a tune up work.”
The Division III Cross Country Championships will be held Saturday at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andrew Alonzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.