USC Takes Fourth At Highlander Invitational

    Team huddle before the 2014 Highlander Invitational in Riverside, Calif.
    Oct. 18, 2014

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    Junior Katerina Berdousi and senior Kira Soderstrom posted top-10 individual finishes to lead the USC cross country team to a fourth-place finish at the Highlander Invitational at the Ops/Ag course in Riverside, Calif. today (Oct. 18).

    Despite some of the Trojans' top runners being held out of today's meet, USC put together a solid team effort on the mostly packed dirt course with four runners posting a season-best time.

    "Overall, I think we did pretty well. It was our last tune-up race before the Pac-12 Championships," said USC's cross country coach David Freeman. "Kat (Berdousi) looked strong and we will continue to develop her finish. Our younger runners ran well today, we had a few PRs and season bests. It always is nice for that to come at the end of the season, so that is pretty exciting to see. The women are starting to see the results on the course after all the work they put in. Overall, I believe we placed fourth. Am I satisfied, no, because at the end of the day you want to win the meet. Individually, most of the runners had a personal best or competed very well. We have room to improve, but they competed well. Everybody has the confidence, you can see it when they walk around and during warm-ups. They are starting to believe in the process now and with Kat leading the way, it helps all of the younger runners."

    Berdousi followed up her Dual Meet win last week with a fourth-place finish today. She was the Trojans' top finisher with a time of 17:28.0, just seven seconds off her PR of 17:21 set at the Dual Meet which moved her into sixth place on USC's all-time cross country 5K list. Berdousi has led USC in all four races she has competed in this season.

    Not far behind her in seventh place with a personal-best of 17:57.9 was Soderstrom. It was the second consecutive race in which the senior established a new 5K PR. Finishing third and fourth among the Trojans were juniors Reika Kijima and Jenna Tong. Kijima was 21st overall with a time of 18:27.2 and Tong posted a season-best time of 18:39.8 to finish 27th. Freshman Jessica Lesser had a time of 18:57.5 to finish 41st as the Trojans final scoring runner.

    Junior Natasha Strickland had a season-best time of 19:20.3 to finish 52nd, just two seconds off her 5K PR. USC's final three runners today were the freshmen Emma Kao, Kimberly Groff and Mackensie Peace. Kao finished 63rd with a time of 19:51.6, Groff 67th with a season-best time of 20:02.9, a minute faster than last week's 5K race and Peace finished 76th with a time of 21:08.

    USC's next race will be the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships to be hosted by California in Berkeley, Calif. on Oct. 31.