Berdousi Leads USC To Cross Country Dual Meet Victory Over UCLA

    Katerina Berdousi talks to the Pac-12 Network following her dominating victory at the USC-UCLA Cross Country Dual Meet. The Trojans edged the Bruins, 27-28.
    Oct. 9, 2014

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    Junior Katerina Berdousi cruised to a 22-second victory to lead the USC women's cross country team to a 27-28 Dual Meet victory over West Region No. 3-ranked UCLA at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, Calif. tonight (Oct. 9). The race began at 5:30 p.m. and also included Cal Poly Pomona, which USC defeated 20-38 in the double-dual meet scoring system. The Trojans, which had five runners PR, won their first cross country meet since winning the Aztec Invitational on Sept. 15, 2012.

    For the second consecutive season the Trojans provided the top runner at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet as Erica Capellino won the race in 2013.

    "Overall, we ran pretty well," said USC cross country coach David Freeman. "I told the women the past couple of weeks that we have a shot to win, to start visualizing winning the race. Today they executed and followed the plan, and it all came to fruition. I think they are starting to get more confidence and believing that they can work as a team and really start competing at the Pac-12 level."

    Berdousi finished the race with a PR of 17:21.00 to pull away from the field during the second half of the race and win by 22 seconds over UCLA's Valerie Morrison, who was second with a time of 17:43.00. Berdousi's 5K time was the fastest by a Trojan since Zsofia Erdelyi set the school cross country 5K record with a time of 16:51.90 in winning the Roadrunner Invitational on Oct. 17, 2008.

    "Kat (Berdousi) is a whole new person this year," said Freeman. "She seems more determined and focused and really wants to be one of the best runners in the conference. She has really put in the effort this summer and in the fall to get up to that upper echelon to be able to compete at the Pac-12 level." USC's second finisher and third overall was junior Reika Kijima who had a time of 17:56.00, just four seconds off her PR. She had a very impressive closing sprint in her second race as a Trojan, after transferring to USC following two seasons at Azusa Pacific.

    Senior Kira Soderstrom was the next Trojan finisher and she had a PR of 18:07 to finish seventh overall. Her time was 27 seconds faster than her previous 5K best. Freshman Amber Bragdon sliced over a minute off her first collegiate 5K race by finishing 11th with a time of 18:18. Just behind her as USC's final scoring runner was the senior Capellino, who clocked 18:19. Junior Jenna Tong, who was second at this meet in 2013, placed 15th with a time of 18:53.

    Freshmen Jessica Lesser (17th, 18:56) and Emma Kao (20th, 19:13) were the fourth and fifth Trojan runners to establish a PR. They both had a slight improvement over their first 5K, the Mustang Challenge on Sept. 20.

    Also running for USC were junior Natasha Strickland who placed 25th with a time of 19:55, freshman Mackensie Peace who was 27th with a time of 20:32 and freshman Kimberly Groff who took 28th with a time of 21:01.

    USC's next race will be the Highlander Invitational in Riverside, Calif. on Oct. 18.