CHINO, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2015) – Senior Aditya Bhagavathi (Plainsboro, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro North) led the Caltech men's cross country team to a fifth-place finish at the SCIAC Championships, hosted at Prado Regional Park in Chino, placing fourth individually to earn All-Conference honors on Saturday morning.
The men improved three places from their performance at the Multi-Duals to record their best finish in the Championships since 2004 – when there were only eight teams in the SCIAC – while Bhagavathi's individual place was the best since former record-holder Ian Schapiro in 2001. The senior also took home the conference's Ray Adkinson Award for sportsmanship, as voted on by the SCIAC coaches.
"Aditya has developed into a phenomenal runner over his four years at Caltech," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "The runners he finds himself mixing with every race are some of the best in the NCAA. He has earned his teammates' admiration and the respect of the entire conference in the process."
The men rode Bhagavathi's high place and a strong middle group to edge out the University of Redlands by two point, 161-163, while the women's team finished in a tight pack, with four runners placing between 70th-84th and another three from 94th to 97th.
Bhagavathi battled back and forth with one of Division III's top middle-distance runners over the final two miles to clock a 26:02.43, which was a whopping 44.46 quicker than last year on the same course. Senior Jared Forte (Lake Elsinore, Calif. / Elsinore) stepped up after a disappointing past two races to match last year's place of 49th while shaving 55 seconds off his Multi-Duals time to come in three seconds under his 2014 time. Freshman Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) overcame illness and cramping to place 55th, followed closely by senior Alexander Anemogiannis (Atlanta, Ga. / Marist School), who bettered last year's #4 finisher while improving 17 places and 51 seconds on his 2014 performance. Freshman Rohan Doshi (West Windsor, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro North) clinched the team finish behind a strong final mile to claim 84th place.
"I'm proud of the way we rebounded after the Multi-Duals," Raphelson said. "The men re-focused after the letdown two weeks ago and delivered one of the better performances in recent Caltech history."
Senior Mark Lorden (Brookline, N.H. / Hollis-Brookline) turned in one of the most impressive performances on the team, chopping 41 seconds off his Multi-Duals time and over two full minutes from his 2014 finale to come in at 100th in the field (30:21.90). Freshman Joey Hong (Milpitas, Calif. / King's Acad.) was right behind the veteran in 101st place. Juniors Bobby Sanchez (Riverside, Calif. / Martin Luther King) and Rishabh Pipada (Princeton, N.J. / West Windsor-Plainsboro North) each shaved some time from the Multi-Duals, with Sanchez dropping 1:26 and Pipada 38 seconds.
Freshman Michelle Marasigan (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / James B. Conant) paced the women's team with a 70th-place finish just ahead of a trio of Beavers who beat out last year's No. 2 finisher. Classmate Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) was second on the squad in 72nd while sophomore Caroline Atyeo (Parkland, Fla. / Marjory Stoneman Douglas) dropped 1:21 and 13 places from her rookie year to cross the line in 76th and senior Rachel Thorp (La Canada, Calif. / La Canada) finished in 84th.
Caltech's #4-6 finishers beat the University of La Verne's and were just a few positions back of Cal Lutheran University's. Senior Alice Michel (La Canada, Calif. / La Canada) scored in 94th and sophomore Robin Brown (Potomac, Md. / Richard Montgomery) crossed the finish in 96th, followed immediately by junior Lilly Luo (Belle Mead, N.J. / Montgomery). Freshman Ariel Hasse (Wasilla, Alaska) rounded out the field in 106th place.
"We had five of our top eight racing at their first Championships today," Raphelson said. "While many hoped for a better result, I was pleased to see Michelle improve a few spots from the Multi-Duals as well as Rachel and Caroline step up as core contributors to place third and fourth for us, especially despite their limited racing this year. Overall, a tremendous cultural growth has taken place with our women's team this year and I am confident that the impact will be evident at regionals."
Raphelson and the Beavers will head to Claremont, Calif. in two weeks for the NCAA West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 14.