MASON, Ohio (Nov. 22, 2014) – Caltech men's cross country junior Aditya Bhagavathi (Plainsboro, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro) bested his own program record on his way to a 139th-place finish at the NCAA Championships on Saturday morning.
Bhagavathi shaved another four seconds off his record set at the SCIAC Multi-Duals to clock in at 25:34.7 on the biggest stage possible, despite facing considerably more difficult conditions. He improved his position among West Region runners by three, placing ninth.
"This season has been an eye-opening experience for Aditya and the team as a whole," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "Our goal all along has been to pursue our true potential, and I think we're starting to discover how good Caltech cross country can be. We have reason to be tremendously proud of what we accomplished this year, while excited for the future."
After a day of preparation in low-30 degree weather, conditions improved a bit with temperatures in the high-30s by race time, but a soft, muddy makeup caused problems from the outset as multiple runners slipped coming around the many hairpin turns within the first mile.
Bhagavathi ran conservatively to open the race, hanging just outside the top 200 despite a fall of his own near the 3-kilometer mark. The junior bided his time until about midway through, when he kicked into gear and moved into the middle of a massive pack of runners. With the end in sight, he fired up his best finishing kick down the stretch to break into the top-150.
"Of course it was an amazing experience, but I am not leaving satisfied," Bhagavathi said. "Getting a taste of nationals makes me even hungrier for next year, and I hope to have my teammates competing here with me then."
Bhagavathi now owns the top two times ever run in Caltech program history, having broken Ian Shapiro's 2001 mark set at the NCAA West Regional and his own record from four weeks prior.