By Samantha Thompson

Keeping the wind at their backs, UC Santa Cruz’s women’s cross country team continues to stride through a successful season.Currently ranked as the No. 2 Division III team in California, the Slugs traveled to San Luis Obispo last weekend to participate in an invitational hosted by Cal Poly. UCSC placed ninth out of 13 teams, nearly all of which were Division I.With a time of 19:01, junior captain Tamara Torlakson was the first runner to cross the finish line for UCSC."The whole team raced very smart," Torlakson said of the team’s performance. "As hard as the course was, times across the board were very good."According to coach Adam Boothe, huge improvements in time were not expected for this race due to the sizable hills and numerous turns which made this course one of the most difficult to run."It’s just a chance for them to go out and get another race in," Boothe said.The team now sets its sights on the Nov. 11 NCAA DIII regional tournament in Chino. A strong performance there could give the team a shot at making it to the NCAA DIII national tournament in Ohio. "That’s what every day of training and every workout that they run is focused on," Boothe said. "That end result."This season, the Slugs have a few runners that stand a good chance at making it to nationals as individuals, including Torlakson."It’s definitely a tangible goal," Torlakson said. "I’m going to do everything in my power to go out there and try to be the first UCSC runner to make nationals."The increase in the team’s success over the past few years is attributed to more committed dedication and a serious outlook on the program among the runners."When we’re not running and not in school, we’re icing or going to physical therapy and making sure our muscles are in order," sophomore Devon Orme explained. "It’s a lot of work behind the scenes."Strict diets, core work, weight routines, along with averaging 40 to 60 miles of running a week, are just a few of the ways that these runners dedicate themselves to their sport."The decisions they make both in life and for running is based on wanting to be a nationally-ranked team," Coach Boothe said. "That’s what made the big difference this year." Orme and Torlakson are two of only five veterans this season, but according to both runners, the new additions have given the team a lift."Even though our team’s young, we’re doing better than our program has ever done," Orme said. Torlakson agreed."We’re all putting in the effort out there every single day," Torlakson said. "This team can do big things."