Hard test Awaits Sdsu Runners

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Aztecs will travel to Stanford for most difficult challenge of season By Devin Kunysz, Staff WriterMidterms have come early for the members of the San Diego Statecross country team. When the gun sounds to start the 31st annualStanford Invitational Saturday, SDSU will face its toughest test ofthe year.

It will be a test administered not in the classroom, but rather atthe Stanford Golf Course, site of one of the most prestigious crosscountry meets in the nation.

The meet will pit the Aztecs against two top-10 teams, and againsttwo of the toughest programs in the nation, No. 1 Stanford and No. 8UCLA. In addition to the stiff competition, the Aztecs will race a6K course for the first time this season, which is important sinceall of the postseason meets will be run to the same distance.

While the meet will give SDSU a chance to test its squad againstthe top teams in the nation, but assistant head coach JenniferNanista isn’t looking at anyone besides her own runners.

“The goals for every meet this year are the same,” Nanista said.”I just want to see improvement.”

Only one of the Aztecs’ returning runners from 2003 placed in thetop 100 here last year: team captain Christal Cuadra. The junior hassolidified her place as the team’s best runner, but is stillrecovering from a back injury.

“The meet will be an excellent benchmark to see how far along therecovery process she is,” Nanista said.

The meet is also the first indication of how competitive Cuadramay be, since she is the best shot for SDSU to send a runner to thenational meet. Cuadra would need to knock about 40 seconds off lastyear’s 22:32 to go to nationals, according to Nanista.

One of the things to watch will be the performance of thosemembers of the team who did not race last year at the invitational.

“Stanford is even tougher than our conference meets, Nanista said.”It’s comparable to the regionals with the talent that will be racingthere.”

Whether the team can overcome this disadvantage is pivotal sincethe Aztecs’ No. 2 and No. 3 runners from the Aztec Invitational,sophomore Ali Baker and freshman Brookie Dettermann, both did notparticipate in last year’s meet.

“The extra 1,000 meters isn’t that much more, and Brookie isactually better over long distances,” Nanista said.

Baker and Dettermann’s performances will be something to keep aneye on since they will be counted on to perform in the conference 6Kruns later in the year. Saturday’s meet also provides the team witha second chance to see how it stacks up against MWC-foe UNLV, whoalso raced against the Aztecs in the Fullerton Opener earlier thisseason.