The Palomar cross country teams faced off against four-year colleges in the Cougar Challenge at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM).
The men placed fifth out of nine teams, ending with 157 points. Palomar’s fastest time was Gerry Alvarez with a 27:31. The fastest men’s time overall was Sergio Gonzalez with 25:03.
The women faired equally well, placing fifth out of eight teams, with a score of 114 in the 5K. Bethany Garcia had the fastest Palomar time of 19:12, compared with first place finisher Kate Bouvatte’s 17:30.
“They did great today,” said Women’s Head Coach Jennifer Williams. “They’ve been working on their speed so we’ve seen some turnaround in their legs. They’ve all improved their times in the past two weeks. It’s exciting.”
Men’s coach Hugh Gerhardt was equally enthusiastic.
“This is the fastest men’s team we’ve had in years,” Gerhardt said.
The course at CSUSM is mostly flat, smooth terrain of asphalt and grass. This leads to quick times and lots of personal record breaking (PR).
“My favorite part was that it was 5 miles and it was all flat. It made it easy to PR,” said Freshman Leonardo Alcarez. “It was quick. It made it easy to catch up to people.”
Gerhardt agreed this was a good course for the team.
“On a hilly course they see their times and start freaking out. ‘Why am I so slow at mile one and mile two?’ Here it’s always pretty quick,” Gerhardt said.
Although the course is the closest distance to Palomar of any of the events this season, there is no home-court advantage for the team. The Comets have run the course before, but usually train in more dimentional places, such as the hills or beach. The only advantage comes from not having to commute far distances to schools such as Pasadena City College and Cuyamaca, members said.
This was the final meet before the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Finals, which would be followed by the Regional Finals. Looking forward to the final meets of the season, Gerhardt pointed out there is a lot to go up against.
“The conference this year is incredibly quick,” Gerhardt said. “Three of our men’s teams will finish in the top 10-15 in state, which is unbelievable for a conference.”