Garrett Leight

The Cal Poly men’s cross country team placed 11th at the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. over the weekend, but fell short of the team’s expectations.

The team entered the race ranked 10th in the nation in the Mondo Cross Country Poll, and placed 11th behind nine ranked teams and one unranked. The team finished with 361 points in the “Blue” race.

“We all know that we can do better than this,” coach Mark Conover said. “The team knows this and everyone else knows that we are capable of doing much better.”

Conover said that even with the 11th-place finish, the team ran well enough at the Roy Griak race in Falcon Heights, Minn. to possibly gain some cushion for an at-large bid to nationals.

“We went in knowing that we already had most everything done to compete in nationals,” senior Brandon Collins said. “We were feeling confident, but we were unable to use it to our advantage.”

Redshirt freshman Alex Dunn led the team pack with a 50th-place finish in a time of 24:35. Dunn was followed closely by junior Matt Johnsrud in 54th with a time of 24:37.

Junior Jameson Mora, redshirt freshman Troy Swier, and transfer junior Brian Baker were the last three scoring members of the team with times of 24:53, 24:55, and 25:03 respectively.

Stanford won the race with 89 points followed by BYU (174) and Georgetown (222).

“This is an extremely competitive race,” Conover said. “All of the top teams in the country were there.”

Even with the performance, Conover feels that there is nothing to worry about, yet.

“All things can be rectified with the training that we do here that is geared for peaking at the end of the season,” Conover said. “We just need to get the job done in the next few weeks.”

As far as the team’s chances in the upcoming Big West Championships, Collins said, “If we don’t win conference we should be banished from this campus. It would be a disgrace.”

The Mustangs will be heavy favorites at the meet and are one of the top teams in the west region, according to the Mondo poll.

Conover doesn’t believe the failed expectations at the Pre-National Invitational mean the team won’t be successful at the national championships.

“We’ll be all right from here on out,” Conover said. “We haven’t even laid all our cards out on the table.”

Conover spoke of senior Andy Coughlin who wasn’t in the line-up this past weekend.

“Andy is a runner with experience in the NCAA Cross Country Championships,” Conover said. “We’ll be using all our weapons down the stretch.”

All of the preparation in the next few weeks is geared toward the final race at Indiana State in which team members are confident they can perform at a high level.

“We have the talent and drive to finish in the top five,” Collins said. “We need some of the young guys to step up in a situation they’ve never been in before.”

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