SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After three weeks without a race, the UC Santa Barbara cross country teams head to Sacramento Friday to take part in the NCAA West Regional Preview. Coach Pete Dolan anticipates a competitive field.
"There are some very good teams from California that will be there," Dolan said. "I anticipate a high-powered California race."
Indeed, the only team participating from outside of the Golden State is Oregon State. The stiff competition includes a UCLA men's team ranked 11th in the nation, while the women from San Francisco currently check in at 24th.
Coming off victories by both the men's and women's teams in the Riverside Invitational, the Gauchos have clearly identified their top runners: Dani Moreno and Christine Cooperstein for the women, and Anthony Ortolan, Bryce Rausa, and Andrew Farkas for the men. On Friday, Dolan has no problem with them experimenting.
"The proven leaders can go out there and practice strategy," he said. "They can get after it early in the race, try different things."
While the stars are evident, every great team is not complete without the other runners competing at a high level. Friday is an opportune time for them to step up.
"Some on the team need to show what they are made of," Dolan said. "This is a great race to prove yourself."
At Riverside, sophomore Maxine Goyette performed at a high level, finishing with a time of 21:02.70 in the 6K race, good for 6th overall. Her example is one that Dolan hopes some of the other runners will follow.
"She takes us from a good team to a great team," Dolan said of Goyette. "Now it's if the others can step up as well."
The meet will take place at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento this Friday. The men will run an 8K at 9:30 a.m., and the women will take part in their 5K race at 10:30 a.m.