By: Brian Brownfield
ANGWIN, Calif. – Menlo College Cross Country participated in the Pacific Union College Cross Country Invitational on Sunday and once again finished with strong showings across the board. Last year's winner was Megan Thompson and she proved that one year ago was no fluke. Thompson paced not only the Menlo's females but once again finished first among all women to hold onto her first-place honors. Noble Boutin was competing in his first collegiate 8K and led all male competitors for Menlo College while securing a top-ten finish.
The story of the afternoon was Thompson and her continued dominance of the field. Last year she finished the women's 5K in an impressive 21:42 but this year she needed a faster time to remain the top runner. After two miles of adventuring through the difficult, hilly course, Thompson was in third place behind a pair of UC Merced runners. She saved the best for last and found that extra bit of endurance that evaded others as she pulled ahead in the final stretch and eventually won by 18 seconds. Her final time was 21:07, 35 seconds better than her previous mark one year ago.
When asked about the stellar performance from Thompson, Head Coach Dan Noel was impressed as always. "Megan ran a smart, controlled race, taking advantage of her experience on the course to make a move over the last mile." Noel stated. "She just gets stronger and stronger with every competition."
Stephanie Sanchez was able to nail down a spot in the top-20 with her time of 25:49 and finished 19th overall. Hunter Dupee, Antarpreet Dhariwal, and Emily Abrams rounded out the top-five amongst Menlo women in the invitational.
On the men's side, Boutin finished with a time of 30:11 in the 8k which earned him a seventh place finish. Being that it was his first collegiate 8k, there might have been some doubting just how competitive he could be, but there was no apparent learning curve for the freshman out of Sacramento. Coach Noel commented, "Noble is bucking the trend that freshman have trouble adjusting to the 8K distance. He ran a mature race, all the more impressive for the elevation changes." Richard Runkle-Edens ran a solid race to finish 14th with a time of 31:44, and Erick Parsons rounded out the Menlo men with a 36:28 time.
The first two events of the year have featured courses with a lot of elevation changes which creates a more difficult run for athletes. Coach Noel admitted this, but has still seen a lot out of his teams in the first two races. "We have started the season with two very tough courses, and have still competed well. We're excited to have some flatter, faster courses ahead so we can really fly."
Next on the schedule for Menlo College Cross Country is the Golden Gate Invite hosted by San Francisco State University. The race will be on Friday, October 7 and gets underway at 3:30 PM. Menlo will have just one more invite on tap at William Jessup before preparing for the Golden State Athletic Conference Championships during the first week of November.