The men’s and women’s track teams are off to a pair of strong seasons this spring, with a number of runners recording commanding performances at multiple invitationals. Most recently, the Lions competed at the UCLA Bob Larsen Distance Carnival on March 29, where multiple Lions finished highly and earned significant personal records.
In the seeded men’s 5,000 meter race, freshman Ethan Frisone finished first for LMU, where he clocked a personal best of 14:49.15 to finish 13th overall among 50 total seeded and open race finishers. Frisone was followed closely by sophomore Joseph Garcia, who crossed the line in 15th at 14:49.75, a personal best.
Senior Solomon Demeku-Ousman was the lone Lion in the seeded one mile race. The UC Riverside transfer finished the race in 12th place out of 40 total competitors.
On the women’s side, senior Giselle Masedo finished first for the Lions and ninth overall in the seeded 5,000 meter race out of 32 total seeded and open competitors. The Los Angeles native clocked a personal best of 17:10.73, putting her at No. 13 all-time in program history in the event. Shortly behind Masedo was fellow senior and teammate Kyla Danforth, who finished in 17:18.27.
Senior Ann Kelly was the only Lion who competed in a middle-distance race. Kelly ran 4:46.82 in the seeded 1500 meter race for 18th place.
The men’s team has made significant progress this spring, notes Frisone, a freshman from Orange County. After losing seniors Jack Polerecky and Koby Pederson—No. 1 and 2 cross country runners this past fall— to graduation and redshirting, respectively, the younger runners on the team have had to step up.
“We have a pretty young group for the most part, and when we went our separate ways for winter training, everybody put in the work on their own,” said Frisone. “After winter break, everybody was in pretty good shape ... The freshmen and sophomores have made some really big strides.”
Frisone, along with Garcia, freshman Zach Arias and sophomore Kyle Friedler, have had much success this spring. The quartet of underclassmen each broke 15 minutes in the 5K this season, with Frisone (14:49.15) and Garcia (14.49.75) earning their personal bests at UCLA. Arias and Friedler notched their times at the March 9 Oxy Distance Carnival. The men clocked times of 14:49.77 and 14.57.88, respectively.
In the 3,000 meter distance, the four men have all broken 8:45 this spring, as has senior Branden Estrada. Estrada and Demeku-Ousman have excelled in the middle-length distances this season, with the two leading the team in the 1500 meter distance. Estrada sported a best of 3:56.26 on March 9, just behind Demeku-Ousman, who recorded a 3:55.87.
“Everybody has had pretty good range,” said Frisone. “We’ve had some success in all the different races.”
While this spring has been an exciting time for the young Lions, they are putting extra emphasis on taking care of their bodies heading into the rest of the season.
“As the season wears on, you’re adding so many more miles,” said Frisone, whose elite time at UCLA put him at No. 16 all-time in program history in the 5K. “It’s easy to feel banged up, so it’s kind of a roadblock trying to keep care of your legs and taking care of the little things, like getting sleep.”
For the women, the 18-minute barrier in the 5,000 meters has been broken by Masedo, Danforth and freshman Raina Hines, who all sport season bests of 17.10.73, 17:18.27 and 17.56.62, respectively. The trio have also all notched sub-10:30 times in the 3,000 meter distance. Kelly and freshman Grace Catena join the three women in sporting sub five-minute times in the 1500 meter race.
Masedo is proud of the work her teammates put in this season, despite a few bumps in the road.
“This season’s been pretty good,” said Masedo. “We have a good team environment and we’ve been doing the track workouts, [which] are getting harder. ”
She noted big plans for the group looking toward the latter half of the season. The main goal for the team, she said, is avoiding injury.
“Staying injury-free is definitely the number one thing,” she said. “We drill that into all of us. You never know with runners.”
Masedo also highlighted the importance of “keeping up with your running.”
“A lot of the girls in the past just didn’t do their running, and that affects your training,” she said. “So we have to keep this mindset that it happens to [all of] us and we can get lazy, but that we just have to keep going because that’s the mentality on the track.”
That mentality will be put to the test in the team’s final couple of weeks. The Lions’ next scheduled meet will be back at UCLA, as the group competes at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational on April 13.