Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara cross country will take their efforts down south to Orange County this weekend for the Big West Conference Cross Country Championships set to take place this Saturday, October 27th. With the team previewing the course back in early September this year at the Mark Covert Invitational, the Gauchos are well prepared for the tall grass and dirt loops of Carbon Canyon Regional Park with their sights set on individual and team conference accolades galore. This year's championships, hosted by Cal State Fullerton, will mark a special occasion for the Big West as it celebrates the 50th anniversary for all men's sports in the Big West Conference and the 35th for women's.
When: October 27th, 2018
Where: Carbon Canyon Regional Park, 4442 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, CA, 92821
8:45am Men's 8k
9:30am Women's 6k
The course will consist of multiple loops alternating between a 1k grass inner loop in the main section of the park and a dirt trail nature loop. The second nature loop of the men's course will have a 150m section of concrete pathway.
For parking, the price will be five dollars per vehicle to enter.
The men's team goes into championship weekend with a positive record on every team in the conference save one, having beat nearly every Big West conference school at the Mark Covert Invitational as well as besting Cal State Fullerton at the UCSB Lagoon and UC Davis at the Bronco Invitational. The one team the Gauchos have yet to beat are the Mustangs of Cal Poly, having an 0-3 record in the head to head this season. Despite this, the men are prime to make their case on Saturday as they have traded back to back conference titles since 2014 with UCSB taking the 2014-15 titles and Cal Poly taking 2016-17.
The scoring members for the Gaucho men have been fairly consistent throughout the season in the likes of Daniel Mountcastle, Nick Randazzo, Yousef Baddour, and Brian Schulz. With Mountcastle being the only upperclassmen, the four of them have made a strong case for UC Santa Barbara to have a shot at the team title on Saturday, but with the quality of the field at this year's conference, it may just come down to the fifth man to determine who will be taking home the trophy. True freshman Jack Landgraf has slowly made his case throughout the course of the season, consistently finding his way into the top five since UCSB's home meet at the Lagoon back in mid-September. Redshirt Junior James Douglass is aiming to fit the part as well, having been in the top five twice this season along with past conference experience in both cross country and track. If this year's competition goes as predicted, it's going to be an incredible bout to the finish to determine who will run away with the team title this year.
The women haven't had their most ideal build up heading into the postseason, garnering losing records to Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, and UC Davis on the year. Despite this, the women's team always seems to find a way to put out their best effort at conference, evident by the fact that they've been either first, second, or third in the team standings since 2009.
Junior Katie Camarena and sophomore transfer Astrid Rosvall have led the way for the women's team all season, trading wins back and forth all season leading up to championship weekend. With Camarena being one of the top returners from last year's conference meet and Rosvall having stuck with her nearly all season, it's not a stretch to consider either of them to possibly take home the individual title this weekend.
If the Gaucho women wish to keep up their streak of consistent team placings at the conference meet, the No. 3 - No. 5 scoring positions are going to need to step up to the occasion as they've done in years past. The Gaucho women of course have a plethora of athletes who could come through on the day in the likes of Miranda Ross, Marisa Rodriguez, and Maddie Meade, all of whom have been within the top 5 at some point during the season. True Freshman Emma Overell has been holding down the No. 3 scoring position throughout the latter half of the season, so she may play an integral part to the team's success this weekend. Same goes for redshirt freshman Jasmine Rippey who has slowly worked her way up the ranks as the season has progressed, being the No. 5 and No. 4 scorer in the past two meets respectively. The competition won't take the Gauchos lightly, but their past resume may just speak for itself once the gun goes off as they've done time and time again.