ELSAH, IL - UC Santa Cruz finished 26th in the nation at the NCAA Div. III Championships just outside of St. Louis.
On a chilly Midwest morning, the Banana Slugs made history in a stacked field with their team debut at the National meet.
"Today was an incredible day for UC Santa Cruz Cross Country. Eight days ago we weren't ranked among the top 35 teams in the nation, and today we were able to finish 26th," said head coach David Klech. "I'm impressed with our ability to regroup after such a remarkable race last weekend and to put forth another great effort."
UCSC finished with a team score of 611 over the 8-kilometer course. North Central won the Team Championship with four runners in the top 20 for a score of 57.
"This was an incredibly challenging course on a cold, rainy, and windy day. This was our 4th consecutive meet averaging under 26 minutes. Being able to have another great team performance at the biggest stage of NCAA athletics."
Paul Colosi paced UCSC finishing 130th with a time of 25:39.72. He finished 131 places better than his freshman Championship performance in Louisville and was 83 seconds faster. Freshman Nick Klieber was right behind him, finishing 131st in 25:41.43.
Ralph Balaoing completed the UC Santa Cruz contingent, placing 273rd in 27:25.44.
"Paul has continued to mature this year and had a much improved performance compared to a year ago. He has been a consistent leader for our program and he really set the tone for us today," Klech said. "Nick has been outstanding this year and was the 8th freshman across the line today. Dante, Draven, and Kellen have been consistent performers for us all season. Tyler was able to PR on arguably the hardest course we ran on all season."
Klech was hopeful that now UCSC has a taste of NCAA success, the future is bright for the program.
"Our goal was to enjoy the experience and learn what it takes to be competitive at the National Meet. We return all 7 runners today next year so we are excited about what the future holds. "