The Fort Lewis College cross country runners shifted gears and raced at sea level in La Jolla, Calif., last weekend.
The oxygen-rich conditions paid dividends and proved costly at the same time, according to head coach Ken Flint.
There was the excitement of running at sea level. And I allowed the women to go out too fast, Flint said.
The FLC runners responded with fast times through two-thirds of the 6-kilometer womens race, he said.
But we were slower at the end ... that was bad coaching on my part, Flint said.
Still, the Fort Lewis College women set four personal records in the sea-level race, the Triton XC Classic hosted by the University of California-San Diego.
The FLC men raced to a fourth-place finish without their top runner.
We kept Kip (Mutai) back because of his leg, Flint said of the Skyhawks No. 1 runner from Kenya. We want him ready (for regionals).
Freshman walk-on Christian Gering led the FLC men with his 15th-place finish in 34:14 for the 10-kilometer mens race.
Jimmy Mohrbacher was 28th for FLC in 35:17.
Also running for the Skyhawks were Joey Brenner (30th, 35:30), Dominick Bitsui (33rd, 35:39.4), Logan Ott (33rd, 35:41.8), Justin Miller (40th, 35:56.7) and Derek Laue (44th, 36:50.6).
Ott is from Mancos; Laue is from Bayfield.
UC-San Diego won the mens race with 36 points. The hosts were followed by Central Arizona (46), Cal Poly Pomona (69), Fort Lewis (116), Cal State-Monterrey Bay (124) and Western New Mexico (155).
Cal Polys Ryan Carrell won the mens 10K in 32:44.
The Fort Lewis womens team finished 13th with 297 points.
Helen Smith led the way for the Skyhawks in 37th place (24:20.6).
Next for FLC was Amber Izzo (58th, 24:55). She was followed by former Durango High School standout Maria Creech (72nd, 25:18.8), Liz Schwab (78th, 25:27.7), Courtney Ott (103rd, 26:36.9) and Morgan Love (105th, 26:44.3).
UC-San Diego also won the womens team title with 38 points.
San Diego was followed by Central Arizona (120), San Diego State (124), Cal State-Los Angeles (138) and Cal State-San Bernardino (139).
The Fort Lewis women were 13th.
Unattached runner Breanne Stenkowski won the womens 6K in 21:18.1. The top college finisher was San Diego States Marianne Hogan (22:01.8).
This race is going to help us in four weeks at regionals, Flint said. It was a productive trip for us. Were getting where we need to be.
Fort Lewis will race again in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 22 in Denver.