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Sophomore Michael Viano competing in the Fresno Cross Country Invitational at Woodward Park on Sept. 9, 2017 (Michael Ford/ The Collegian)

Runners aim for faster pace

Fresno State’s cross-country team fell short Saturday at the Fresno Cross Country Invitational at Woodward Park. The Bulldogs co-hosted the event with Fresno Pacific University.

The Fresno State men finished fourth behind Cal Poly, San Jose State and crosstown rival Fresno Pacific.

The women finished third behind San Jose State and Cal Poly and just ahead of Fresno Pacific.

Bulldogs seniors Joel Gonzalez and Efren Reyes paced the men’s side with times of 20:52 and 21:10, respectively for the four-mile run.

Gonzalez finished fifth overall and Reyes finished ninth.

“I’m a little upset that I wasn’t closer to my teammate, Joel,” Reyes said. “He really left me out there in the middle of the course.”

Gonzalez was surprised at how well he was able to stick with some of the runners from schools known for their good programs.

“I was thinking that Cal Poly is a really good running school, and I didn’t know why they were sticking with me. I was thinking I could hang with these guys, and it gave me some confidence,” Gonzalez said.

Senior Kathleen Dunne and freshman Lydia Scott were the Bulldogs’ top performers for the women’s 5k race with times of 18:19 and 18:24, respectively.

“I was expecting all three of our top girls to work together out there and that was exactly what happened. I am really impressed on how the race went,” Scott said.

Although she felt strong during the race, Scott thinks there are still improvements to be made.  

“Going into the race, I knew I was going to feel tired during the race just because it is so hilly,” Dunne said. “Just to be at a home meet, it was good to treat it almost like a workout because we do our workouts here and that made it a little easier mentally.”

Head coach Christine Engel was happy with how her team performed, especially since it still is early in the season.

“I think that it was a definite improvement from a week ago. We don’t have a lot of depth on either side. That forces each individual to be accountable and know that they really have to perform,” Engel said. “I think that Joel and Efren were good for us up front.  Our goal is to learn from each competitive opportunity.”

And she knows there is room for improvement.

“Obviously, we look at the championships as what we gear everything toward at the end of October. In another six weeks, we are going to be more experienced, tougher [and] have more strength down the line.” she said.

Fresno State will look toward improving in its next meet on Sept. 30 at the Capital Cross Challenge, hosted by Sacramento State.