Westmont Men’s and Women’s Cross Country opened their season on Saturday when they traveled across town to compete in the Lagoon Invite, which is hosted by neighbor UCSB. Both clubs entered this fall ranked in the NAIA top-25 preseason polls, with the Men’s ranked at #24 and the women ranked at #12.
For the men, an aggressive approach saw three Warriors finish in the top-five of the 8K. Leading the way was sophomore Andres Leon who finished as the race’s overall runner-up with a time of 25:19.40. UCSB’s Ethan Godsey won the race with a time of 25:02.11.
Coming in a moment after Leon was the club’s reigning All-American, Zola Sokhela, who finished fourth with a time of 25:30.07. Garret Miller, in the first race of his senior year, finished in 11th place with a time of 25:50.41.
“The men took an assertive approach which led to good finishes, especially for the top-three,” shared Westmont head coach Russell Smelley on the first official day of his 44th season. “Andres made an assertive move coming up on three miles to reconnect with the front pack.
“The energy he gained from being with the pack allowed him to work his way forward for the best race of his brief college career.”
Rounding out the top-five for the men was Danny Rubin, who came in 29th with a time of 27:26.88, and Damien Ureste, who came in 33rd with a time of 28:34.86.
On the women’s side of things, freshman Anne West had the most memorable race in her collegiate debut.
“The Warrior who most realized today’s challenge was Anne West,” offered Smelley. “On the second mile she began to push herself to engage with the runners in front of her. On the final hill, she caught two runners with an intensity that was exciting to watch.
“She lamented not having a stronger kick at the finish because she had put so much effort into the second half of the race. I could only smile at that and tell her that was the way it should be.”
West was the first Warrior to cross the finish line in 16th place with a time of 19:19.24.
Kari Anema was the next to finish in 17th place with a time of 19:35.65, followed by Landon Torres in 19th place with a time of 19:55.85.
The Hundley sisters rounded out the top-five for the Warriors, with Madden posting a time of 20:02.51, and Abigail finishing the race in 20:07.45.
Both squads return to action on Friday, September 9, when they’ll compete in the Vanguard Invitational. After that, the Warriors will compete in three additional regular season meets before competing in the GSAC Champions on November 5 in Rocklin.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.