Oct. 15, 2006
It was meant to be for the UC Santa Barabara Men today in their quest for a National Championship bid. Racing in the Blue section, the first of two men's heats, the Gauchos finished in 4th out of 35 teams with 229 points at the NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, IN. This was the Gauchos highest finish since 2001 and arguably ranks them within the top 10 teams in Div. I competition as they would have finished in 7th when combining the Blue and White races this afternoon. Colorado won the Blue race with 75 points. This equaled the greatest performance in Gauchos men's cross country history as they also finished 4th in the 2001 meet in Indiana.
Leading the charge for the Men was Senior Mike Chavez (Anaheim, CA/Esperanza HS) who ran his best race in Cross Country for 15th place and a time of 24:01 over the 8,000 meter course. In a very deep meet, with 23 of the top 30 teams in the country present, Senior J.D. Krawczyk (Huntington Beach, CA/Marina HS) at 24:12 and Junior Micah Tyhurst (Westchester, CA/Loyola HS) at 24:17 were the next two UCSB runners finishing in 32nd and 36th respectively, The top five men for the Gauchos were all within forty-five seconds of each other in a great effort today to break into the top 5 teams.
Santa Barbara defeated 8 teams currently ranked in the latest national poll including No. 7 Arizona, No. 10 Oklahoma State, No. 15 Georgetown, No. 18 Providence, No. 22 Ohio State, No. 23 Iowa State, No. 26 Dartmouth and No. 29 Butler. They also finished in front of regional foe UCLA who finished 14th with 406 points, Washington State who finished 20th with 532 points, and conference foe UC Irvine who finished 30th with 719 points.
Going out conservatively as planned, Chavez and fellow Senior Krawczyk came through the 4,000m half way point in 12:30 and 12:35, respectively, just within the top fifty racers. In front of them was Tyhurst in 12:25, who ran a gutsy race running within the top 25 throughout the first 6k. Senior Chris Ashley (San Mateo, CA/Aragon HS) and Junior Tim Aukshunas (Orange, CA/El Modena HS) found themselves a little farther back than expected, just inside the top 100 at the 5k.
Ashley finishing in 67th and Aukshunas at 79th were able to move up considerably in the last mile as they finished with times of 24:38 and 24:45, respectively. Ashley, defending Big West Cross Country Champion, who had previously run alongside Chavez in leading up to this race, was bit off his game and still finished 15 seconds faster than last year's time. Rounding out the top seven were Senior Justin Coburn (Clovis, CA/Clovis HS) and Waleed Totari (La Verne, CA/Damien HS) in their first ever Pre-Nationals race. Coburn crossed the line in 165th while Totari placed 178th finishing in times of 25:19 and 25:25.
The Gauchos now look toward the Big West Conference Championships as they go into it with their best chances of winning a conference title since 2001. Cal Poly SLO, the unanimous pick to win the Big West Championships, was ranked 30th in the country going into the Pre-National Meet and finished eighth in the White Race. A similar showing by the Gauchos in San Luis Obispo, CA on October 28th could give them a conference title.