ROCKLIN, Calif. - Jody Carlsen gave it her best shot. That may not have been good enough to bring home gold Saturday morning, but the University of Nevada junior didn't leave the Big West Conference Cross Country Championships empty-handed Saturday morning.
Carlsen, a 1997 Carson High School graduate, placed 10th in the women's race to earn all-conference honors and help the Wolf Pack finish sixth as a team during competition at Sierra College.
Nevada compiled 111 points, only 11 out of the No. 4 spot, which would have matched the Wolf Pack's best-ever Big West finish. Maribah Abiedu, a senior from Los Angeles, covered the hill-lined 5,000-meter course in a time of 18 minutes, 25 seconds to lead Nevada. Smith Valley's Christy Gleason also finished 37th and Jen Fozard, a freshman from Carson City, was 66th for the Wolf Pack.
Carlsen came into the race with the second fastest 5K time this season - 17:52 at the U.C. Davis Aggie Invitational on Sept. 25 - but she had to settle for 10th with an 18:33 clocking. This was a far cry from last year's Big West meet when Carlsen struggled with a case of food poisoning and failed to crack the top 20, it just wasn't what she had hoped for.
"It was a fast race, very competitive," Carlsen said. "I wanted to win, I've beaten everyone here before, but now I want to put this behind me. I've got two weeks to get ready for regionals."
Carlsen and the rest of Nevada's team will run at the regionals Nov. 13 in Ft. Collins, Colo. Two teams and four individuals from that meet will advance to the NCAA Championships Nov. 22 at the University of Indiana.
Boise State junior Abby Peters took the lead in the third mile and went on to capture the Big West gold medal with a 17:54 effort. U.C. Irvine freshman Courtney Baird (18:06) and Jamie Blair (18:14 ) were next through the chute, putting the Anteaters on track to the team championship. Irvine scored 71 points to edge Idaho, which had 75 points with a pack of five runners that was separated by 20 seconds.
Carlsen went out with the leaders, passing the mile marker in third with a time of 5:22.
"She didn't take it out, she sat off the leaders. The race just went out very fast and she had to go out and stay in contact," Nevada coach Kay Gooch said. "That's a pace Jody is capable of handling. Today just wasn't the day."
Abiedu moved up into third-place at the two-mile mark (11:24), eight seconds ahead of Carlsen in fourth. Carlsen did rally from 11th in the final 200 meters, passing an Idaho runner on the track to secure a top-10 finish and all-conference recognition.
Gleason ran 19:30 to finish 37th. Fozard, who graduated from Carson High in June and stepped in as an injury replacement to become the Wolf Pack's No. 7 runner Saturday, ran 20:40 to finish 66th.
"Jen ran well for a freshman, especially considering she only joined the team in August," Gooch said. "This is a big step from high school cross country and hopefully this experience will help her out in the future."
Nevada won team title at the Davis and Fresno State invitationals and finished 12th at Stanford against a field that included six teams that are ranked among the top 10 nationally.
"We've had a really good season; it's the best since I've been here," said Gooch, whose Wolf Pack teams finished fifth in 1997 and eighth in 1998.
In Saturday's men's race, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo swept four of the top five places to capture the team title with 21 points. Cal Poly's Adam Boothe, a junior from San Jose, won the race with a course record 24:49 clocking over 8,000 meters. Paul Ndachi of North Texas and Kenya finished second in 24:56.