Catharyn Hayne / KLC fotos
Cal cross country opens the 2023 season in San Francisco.
Bears Back On The Course For Season’s First Meet On Friday
BERKELEY – California cross country will toe the line at its first meet of the 2023 season on Friday afternoon at the USF Invitational in San Francisco. The Golden Bears will cross the Bay Bridge for the 30th-annual invitational hosted by the Dons at Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park. The women’s 6,000-meter race will kick things off at 2 p.m. PST with the men’s 8,000-meter competition set to follow at 3:30 p.m.
The USF Invitational is a staple of the Cal cross country slate, with the Bears’ history competing at the meet spanning over 20 years. Cal’s men have claimed seven meet titles and five individual victories over the years, while the women have tallied six team victories and five individual first-place finishes. The most recent team titles were collected in 2019 when then-first year head coach Bobby Lockhart’s Bears saw both the men’s and women’s squads sweep the team titles.
At last year’s USF Invite, the men’s team took home a second-place team finish and placed three student-athletes – Caden Carney, Garrett MacQuiddy and Landen Lee – in the top 10. The trio will all return to competition for the Bears this season. On the women’s side, Ellie Black set the pace, slotting the Bears’ first scoring points in her debut run in the Blue & Gold and leading the women’s team to an eighth place overall finish.
This year, seniors MacQuiddy, Gabriel Abbes and Carrick Denker will lead the men’s pack and Claire Yerby will be at the helm of the women’s squad. Nearly half of the 31 student-athletes on the roster are newcomers this season, with five freshmen joining the men’s team and 10 newcomers bolstering the women’s squad. A handful are expected to make their Cal debuts this Friday in contention for a spot on the Bears’ scoresheet.
“The team looks good – we have a big newcomer class with 15 new faces, so there’s a lot of promise there,” said Lockhart, who enters his fifth season as the Bears’ head coach in 2023-24. “Going out to the race this weekend, we’re trying to learn a little bit more about who they are as athletes. Between our early-season workouts and this early-season…