The UC Riverside cross country team returned home to compete in the Highlander Invitational on Oct. 19, which took place at the Agricultural Operations Course just a few minutes from campus. Continuing her strong season, junior Raquel Hefflin won the Highlander Invitational, helping the women’s cross country team to a second-place finish for the meet. The men’s team finished in fifth.

Hefflin recorded her personal best in the 5-kilometer run as her time of 17:09.5 placed the Compton native at the top of the women’s field. Runner-up Wyoming’s Holly Page (17:18.2) crossed the finish line a full nine seconds behind Hefflin. Two other Highlanders concluded the meet in the top 10: Jzsanette Lindstrom (17:38.5) came in sixth place and Alisha Brown (17:53.1) finished with the eighth best time.

Valerie Mares (18:20.0) earned a 21st-place finish while Briana Simmons’ time of 18:35.8 saw her garner a top-40 finish (32nd).

Brooke McCandless (18:44.9), Maryann Holliday (18:47.1), Martina Chase-Rios (19:11.0) and Elizabeth Guzman (19:31.0) rounded out the Highlander squad and finished in 37th, 39th, 49th and 62nd, respectively.

Wyoming took the top spot, totalling 54 points for the team championship. The points were awarded to individual runners equal to the position they cross the finish line. The scores for the runners are added together then combined for a total team score. UC Riverside (64), Cal State Fullerton (65), San Diego State (92) and USC (130) rounded out the top five.

Ben Heck led the charge on the men’s side as his time of 18:21.4 in the 6-kilometer race was good enough for a 13th-place individual finish. He was followed by teammate Miguel Vasquez in 21st place, clocking in at 18:31.2. Just three runners back, Cody Jordan (18.33.5) crossed the finish line with the 24th-best time. Michael Gauger ran the course in 18:36.1, good enough to place 28th, while Alex Castellon earned a top-40 finish with a 18:46.2 showing. Aaron Nguyen (18:57.9), Cesar Solis (19:03.8) and Edgar Cobian (19:48.7) wrapped up the day for the Highlanders, placing in 37th, 42nd and 58th place, respectively.

UC Riverside as a team totaled 89 points, which placed the men’s team in fourth place. Wyoming made it two for two as they claimed another team championship with a total score of 18 points. Runner-up UC Irvine tallied 45 points while third place went to Cal State Fullerton (78).

Unattached runner Luis Guttierez won the individual event with a time of 17:37.6 followed by UCR unattached runner Seth Totten (17:42.9). An unattached runner means the player is not associated with or attached to a particular team or university. Most of these runners are college graduates that are attempting to go professional.

The Highlanders will now prepare for the Big West Championships, which will take place on Nov. 2 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.