Merchan, Huerta Earn Cross Country Honors
Impressive performances at the Highlander Invitational earned CSUN's Michael Merchan and Cal State Fullerton's Samantha Huerta recognition as the Big West Cross Country Athletes of the Week.
Merchan, a senior from San Juan, Puerto Rico, led all Big West competitors at the Highlander Invitational with his third place finish in a field of 250 runners. Merchan ran the 8K course in 24:33.3 – at a 4.56.4 mile pace – and beat the closest Big West runner by 11 seconds. In a preview of next week's conference championship meet at Carbon Canyon Park in Brea, Merchan competed against runners from fellow Big West schools Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Riverside.
It was Merchan's first top-five finish in a race this season, and the first time he had done so since the Master's Invitational on Sept. 30, 2017. Merchan earned Athlete of the Week honors for the second time this year after sharing the award with UC Santa Barbara sophomore Nick Randazzo on Sept. 17.
Huerta, a junior from La Mirada, is Cal State Fullerton's first recipient of Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors in a little over four years. She set the school record in the 5K with a time of 17:03.4 on the UCR Ag/Ops course. Huerta finished third overall – and the top collegiate finisher – and helped the Titans to a dominant team title with 29 points. Huerta also improved upon last year's time from the same meet by 24 seconds.
The last Titan to secure the conference's weekly award was Emily Taylor on Oct. 8, 2014.
Others nominated (men): Evan Jameson (Cal Poly); Sam Pimentel (Cal State Fullerton); Daniel Mountcastle (UC Santa Barbara)
Others nominated (women): Katie Izzo (Cal Poly); Katie Camarena (UC Santa Barbara)