Photo: Dave Brodsky
WALLA WALLA, Wash. (Nov. 10, 2018) – The Caltech men's and women's cross country teams concluded the 2018 season with a historically great day at the NCAA West Regional Championships hosted by Whitman College on Saturday. Both teams improved on last year's regional finishes while several runners improved their placings and times from last year's race.
Freshman Gaurav Phanse (Fremont, Calif. / Dublin) broke the four-year-old program 8K record originally set by Aditya Bhagavathi on Nov. 22, 2014. Phanse rounded out the top-20 in a field consisting of 110 runners from 19 Division III schools, crossing the line at 25:33.8 to best Bhagavathi's time by nearly a full second. A strong second half propelled the freshman, who ran relative to the top-50 for most of the race, into the top-20 thanks to a strong second half. Phanse's record run was one of many stand-out efforts that helped the Beavers to an eighth-place finish, marking a two-spot improvement on last year's regional race, at the time the team's best regional finish since 1997, in addition to its current ranking. The men finished fifth among SCIAC teams and just one spot behind conference rival Occidental College.
Junior Simon Ricci (Chicago, Ill. / Latin School of Chicago) finished behind Phanse with a 26:11.5 while classmate Tanner Moore (Roseville, Calif. / Oakmont) rounded out the Caltech top-3 with a 26:40.4. Senior Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) raced his final race for the Beavers, finishing with a career-best 26:57.6 while sophomore Matthew Earney (San Diego, Calif. / Del Norte) improved his regional finish by one spot (27:03.5) and classmates Spencer Morgenfeld (Palo Alto, Calif. / Palo Alto) and Jacob Ressler (Atlanta, Ga. / St. Pius X Catholic) each set new personal bests with a 27:26.1 and 27:42.8 respectively.
The women's team also had a stellar day, running in slightly cooler conditions than the men, albeit while also having to deal with falling sleet. Led by sophomore Claire Hu (Palo Alto, Calif. / Henry M. Gunn), the Beavers collectively finished 13th among the women, improving on last year's best-ever regional finish by one place and defeating the likes of the University of La Verne and California Lutheran University in addition to partial SCIAC squads from of Whittier College and Chapman University. Hu, who finished 32nd at last year's regional race, this time took 17th with a 22:55.2. While the sophomore took 23rd at this year's SCIAC Championship, she finished 13th among SCIAC competitors on Saturday, ending the season with momentum on her side.
Classmate Molly Crotteau (Chicago, Ill. / Payton) helped lift the Beavers' team finish behind Hu, crossing the line at 24:04 while making a massive 42-spot jump from last year's race. Freshman Alex Bardon (Boston, Mass. / Winsor School) made a successful regional debut with a 24:25.8 and sophomore Krystal Brodsky (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) jumped to fourth among Caltech runners with a 24:44.2. Junior Skye Reese (Concord, N.H. / Concord) followed up her big day at SCIAC's with a 24:57.1 for a six-spot improvement on last year's race. Junior Nicole Feng (Bethany, Conn. / Amity Regional) made her regional debut and responded with a new personal best (25:49.1) to come in sixth among Caltech runners. Sophomore Sirisha Gudavalli (Boulder, Colo. / Fairview) rounded out the Caltech field with a 26:57.
"Claire really bounced back from SCIACs beautifully and the talent of our team is beginning to shine through," Raphelson said. "We were able to have a record-finish even without everyone having their best day."
Raphelson and the Beavers will be looking forward to next year where they hope to make another jump up the SCIAC and West Regional rankings and will be graduating just one senior between the men's and women's regional squads.