SALEM, Ore. (Nov. 17, 2014) – Junior Aditya Bhagavathi (Plainsboro, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro) placed 12th in the NCAA West Regional to qualify for the Division III Men's Cross Country Championships as both Caltech cross country teams competed on Saturday morning.
Bhagavathi qualified individually by virtue of finishing as a top-seven finisher on a non-qualifying team and will represent the Beavers as one of just 56 individual competitors in the race. He is Caltech's top finisher in the region and first national qualifier since Daniel Kleiman won the eight-team race in 1996.
Running in unfamiliar conditions at 30 degrees, Bhagavathi took a conservative approach to start the race, hanging well off the leaders around 40th place in the 119-man field. He built his pace and steadily moved closer to the top-20 when, with a mile remaining, he went all-out to the finish and a great stretch run put him fifth among the seven individual qualifiers from the region.
"Aditya wasn't happy after his performance two weeks ago and went back to the race approach that had worked for him previously," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "The results speak for themselves. He's worked very hard to make it this far, and I'm happy that he gets the opportunity to race and represent Caltech next week at the NCAA Championships."
The junior was flanked by the Beavers' four seniors, who worked together throughout the race, running in close proximity to all net season-best times. Jared Forte (Lake Elsinore, Calif. / Elsinore) led the group with a 27:20.5 and Ian Koss (Fort Collins, Colo. / Poudre) came in with a typically consistent performance just nine seconds later, while Eric Martin (The Woodlands, Texas / The Woodlands College Park) and Juan Adame (Sylmar, Calif. / Sylmar Math Science Technology Magnet) posted career-bests in their final collegiate race. Juniors Alexander Anemogiannis (Atlanta, Ga. / Marist School) and Elliot Simon (Alexandria, Va. / Thomas Jefferson) both followed the quartet with season-best times of their own at 28:17.1 and 29:15.2, respectively.
As a team, the Beavers placed 14th in the 17-team field, finishing just three points behind SCIAC foe the University of Redlands and only six points behind Colorado College despite recording a faster total time than both opponents. Caltech recorded its fastest-ever average time by over 10 seconds, besting its performance at the SCIAC Multi-Duals four weeks prior, and recorded its best point total since the 2002 season.
The women's team improved on its 2012 place by one, finishing 18th as senior Stephanie Reynolds (Tallahassee, Fla. / Lawton Chiles) finished 58th in similar weather but considerably muddier conditions. Reynolds hung within sight of an All-Region finish for the majority of the race while sophomores Gauri Shastri (West Lafayette, Ind. / West Lafayette Jr.-Sr.) and Emily Mazo (Bala Cynwyd, Pa. / Harriton) found themselves between groups for much of the race, but worked together and pushed through to finish 117th and 118th. Freshman Gillian Kopp (Boulder, Colo. / Boulder) and senior Carla Watson (San Diego, Calif. / Westview) were not far behind, crucially outpacing a number of Mills runners to keep the Beavers well ahead in the points.
"This was the type of culminating team experience we were working towards all season," Raphelson said. "Every competitor threw themselves into this race with total effort and it was inspiring to watch. We owe a lot of that to the six seniors who concluded their cross country careers on Saturday; it was a great send-off for them."
Bhagavathi will compete in the NCAA Division III Men's Cross Country Championships in Mason, Ohio on Saturday, Nov. 22. The race is set to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time/8 a.m. Pacific time.