RIVERSIDE — There's a reason why cross country races are usually run first thing in the morning: To avoid the hottest part of the day.
Heat is to long distance running what pouring rain is to baseball.
So when the thermometer read 80 degrees at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the UC Riverside Invitational, Occidental College cross country coach Rob Bartlett knew his men's and women's teams were in for a long day.
"When it's like that, the sensible thing is to hold yourself back a little bit and that's what we did at the start of each race," he said.
Well everyone except maybe Oxy sophomore sensation Cole Williams (San Francisco).
Williams was among the top 15 runners in the open men's 8k until he started to suffer symptoms of heat exhaustion with roughly 400 meters left in the race. He still finished first for Oxy, and 21st overall, with a time of 26 minutes, 43.6 seconds.
Following the race, a noticeably loopy Williams was taken to the emergency room for precautionary reasons. He's okay now and the normally quirky Oxy star is just a little goofier than usual.
His teammate Luis Jochems (Albuquerque, N.M.) ran a solid race, finishing second for Oxy and 28th overall, with a mark of 27:03.7.
The women's team, which ran first, dodged some of the souring temperatures, but the adverse conditions were still very apparent.
Megan Lang (Longmont, Colo.) crossed the line first for the Tigers and 34th overall in the 5k in 19:10.6. Deanna Dupuy (Newbury Park) wasn't far behind in 37th with a mark of 19:13.8.
In general, Bartlett thought both of his teams improved on their first race of the season in Irvine last week.
"Big picture, we took a step forward from last week," Bartlett said. "We were a little more competitive, a little more assertive. But there are also a lot of things we need to focus on and improve at."