Photo Credit: Jeff Liang
Santa Barbara, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Cross Country team will be heading south this weekend to compete at the 39th Annual UC Riverside Invitational, hosted by none other than Big West Conference adversaries UC Riverside. The packed, flat dirt terrain of the Ag/Ops Course will serve as the host site of the Big West Conference Cross Country Championships later this year, so a good number of Big West schools will be in attendance for the invitational including Cal Poly, Hawaii, Long Beach State, meet hosts UC Riverside, and UC Irvine. With 32 men's teams and 33 women's teams set to line up on Saturday, a few regionally ranked schools should also provide some stiff competition with fellow Division One school Southern Utah (Men No. 7 and Women No. 10 in the Mountain Region) highlighting the forefront.
When: Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Where: UC Riverside Ag/Ops Course
7:30am: Women's 6000m Invitational
8:05am: Men's 8000m Invitational
8:40am: Women's 5000m Open
9:10am: Men's 8000m Open
9:50am: Awards Presentation
The Ag/Ops Course is located adjacent to the UC Riverside campus on the 420-acre Citrus Research Center and Agricultural Experiment Station on the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Canyon Crest Drive. From the 215/60 freeway, exit Martin Luther King Boulevard and go West. Turn left at the Canyon Crest Drive traffic light and travel approximately 300 meters to the course entrance.
Parking will be located in Lot 30 in the Northwest corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Canyon Crest Drive. Signs will direct you to the designated area of the parking lot where the parking will be free.
There is a $6 General Admission charge for spectators and they will accept Visa, MasterCard, & American Express. Admission for children ages 3 and under is free.
The women return to the site of their 2017 Big West Conference Championship Team Title to take on the full 6k course after opening up with the 5k distance at the Lagoon Open less than two weeks ago. Junior Astrid Rosvall will likely lead the charge once again after taking third overall with an 18:05.65 5k clocking at the Gauchos' home meet behind Cal Poly's Miranda Daschian and Peyton Bilo, both of whom will be in attendance Saturday morning. The scramble for the next four scoring positions could be a toss up as the top seven finishers for the Gauchos, excluding Rosvall, from the Lagoon Open were merely 12 seconds apart at the finish. Sophomore Emma Overell was the first of those to cross the line in 19:01.89 and she should be in the mix for a scoring position once again, as should redshirt junior Matti Peoples after a breakout cross race to finish 12th overall in 19:03.50. Junior Maddie Meade and redshirt junior Jasmine Rippey were filed in right behind Peoples in 19:07.57 and 19:08.87, so taking closer order with the second and third scoring positions might be just what they need to finish further up in the pack. There's also potential from the likes of senior Megan Satterfield (16th, 19:10.85) and junior Marisa Rodriguez (19th, 19:31.91) to break into that top five should they repeat or improve upon their efforts from the Lagoon Open on the Riverside course.
Junior and co-captain Nick Randazzo stole the show at the Lagoon with his first place finish in the men's 8k and looks prime to deliver once again going into Riverside. The individual battle should be well contested once again with Cal Poly's Jake Ritter entered in the meet, who took second to Randazzo at the Lagoon, along with the competitive Thunderbirds squad from Southern Utah who took the team victory at the Riverside Invitational last year fininshing 2-3-4-5-9 individually. The Riverside course is known to elicit some fast times so if things get out quickly from the start it could be a barn burner for a top ten finish.
Behind Randazzo, fellow co-captain and redshirt senior Daniel Mountcastle is slowly making his way to form with a fifth place finish from Lagoon in 25:15.95. After a premature end to his 2019 track season from a dislocated shoulder, Mountcastle is hungry to move further up the peloton with this weekend's race, with sophomore Jack Landgraf looking to follow closely behind as he was just a place behind Mountcastle at the home meet in 25:21.95. Redshirt senior and graduate student Raymond Boffman received a warm welcome to the Gaucho scoring card by sneaking into the top five for his first race in uniform with a tenth place finish in 25:41.55, and he should be keen to keep that momentum come Saturday morning at Riverside. Redshirt junior Yousef Baddour finished 12th at the Lagoon but an extra two weeks of training and some good vibes from the Ag/Ops Course might serve him well, as the last time he raced on the Riverside course he finished fifth as a redshirt freshman at the 2017 Big West Conference Championships. Lastly, true freshman Manan Vats could turn a few heads with his first race in uniform as he finished right in between Boffman and Baddour at the Lagoon meet running unattached. He has the high school credentials on his side with a 22nd place finish at the 2018 CIF Division One Cross Country State Meet, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the huge corral of a fully fledged collegiate invite.