LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 23, 2019) – Senior Simon Ricci (Chicago, Ill. / Latin School of Chicago) of the Caltech men's cross country team represented the Beavers at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships and took 101st thanks to a record-breaking showing on Saturday morning at Tom Sawyer State Park.
Competing in a field consisting of 279 Division III runners, Ricci finished just outside the top 100 after moving up 73 places over the latter half of the race. His 25:27.80 marks a new season-best, beating out the program 8k record he originally set at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational back in October while improving his standing among regional competitors by three places. As a result, the senior is now the owner of the two fastest times in the history of the program.
The best run of Ricci's career also came in muddy, 45-degree weather conditions, a stark contrast from the usual state of Southern California races. Ricci's finish at nationals surpasses that of Aditya Bhagavathi '15, the team's most recent national qualifier. Bhagavathi's best finish came during his junior year when he took 139th in Mason, Ohio.
A familiar face, SCIAC powerhouse Pomona-Pitzer Colleges won the national championship for the first time ever, ending a three-year reign from North Central College.
"The NCAA Championship race is a unique experience that's hard to prepare mentally for," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "It consists of nearly 300 of the best runners in the country attacking the 8k course with national honors on the line. Despite it being his first time on that stage, Simon performed like a seasoned veteran. The way he carried himself over the latter part of the race was a credit to his maturity and ability. I think it was a great send-off to his cross country career."
Ricci and Raphelson will turn their attention to the outdoor track & field season this spring, when the senior will be vying for program records in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m runs.