Nov. 2, 2002
Riverside, Calif - For defending the conference champion Katie Appenrodt, it was, perhaps, a bittersweet moment. As she battled to the finish of the 2002 Big West Cross Country Championships, leading the Gauchos to an impressive runner-up performance, it was Idaho's Letjwe Marakurwa, a sophomore transfer from Zimbabwe who came out on top, leading the Vandal women to the team title with her 17:47 win. Appenrodt's 17:56 was good enough to hang on for second. Yet, for Appenrodt, the race with Marakurwa marks a return to the racing fitness that earned her an individual qualifying berth in the NCAA Championships.
On the men's side, senior J.T. Service led the Gauchos for the second meet in a row, as he battled with Utah State seniors Mitch Zundel and Mike Nielson. Zundel and Nielson finished 1st and 2nd respectively, leading Utah State to the team title. Service, tiring in the closing stages of the race managed to hang on for 4th (24:58), as Cal Poly's Sean Ricketts caught him in the last few meters. For Service, the 4th-place finish was an improvement from last year's championship at Cal Poly, where he finished 9th.
Behind Appenrodt, true sophomore Desiree Leek rebounded from a sub-par Pre-Nationals showing to earn all-conference honors with a 5th-place effort (18:13). Leek ran a typically conservative early race, before closing strong in the final mile to earn her first all-conference award. With the championship season at hand, the late-blooming Gauchos, behind Appenrodt and Leek will be looking to make a run at the NCAA Championships at Indiana State.
Other scorers for the Gaucho women included freshmen Stephanie Rothstein (18:39) and Lauren Christman (18:40), with junior Desiree DeJesus (18:42) all finishing together in 15th, 16th and 17th respectively.
For the men, team leader Brandon von Guenthner, endured a painful abdominal strain to finish second for the Gauchos in 16th place, with a time of 25:34.
Behind von Guenthner, junior Ramiro Guillen came in 18th in 25:39, continuing a strong first season at UCSB. Jeff Gardina (26:10) and Scott Brandos (26:15) completed the Gaucho scoring in 28th and 31st respectively.
On the horizon, the Gauchos will once again travel to Palo Alto for the NCAA Western Regional Championships, hosted by Stanford. The Regional Championships serve as a do-or-die qualifying meet for the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 25th. The top 2 teams will automatically qualify, with the remaining teams waiting for an at-large announcement by the NCAA selection committee. A predetermined number of individual qualifiers are also selected from the meet.
Men's 8k (9 teams competing): (1) Utah State, 25 points, (2) Cal Poly, 40, (3) UCSB, 95 Individuals - (1) Mitch Zundel, Utah State, 24:46, (2) Mike Nielson, Utah State, 24:47, (3) Sean Ricketts, Cal Poly, 24:56
Gaucho Scorers: (4) J.T. Service, 24:58 (16) Brandon von Guenthner, 25:34 (18) Ramiro Guillen, 25:39 (28) Jeff Gardina, 26:10 (31) Scott Brandos, 26:15 (33) Pablo Gallegos, 26:17 (36) Chris White, 26:22 (48) Bryon Lamorandier, 26:48 (53) Art Avitia, 27:03
Women's 5k (10 teams competing): (1) Idaho, 48 points, (2) UCSB, 55 Individuals - (1) Letjwe Marakurwa, Idaho, 17:47, (2) Katie Appenrodt, UCSB, 17:56, (3) Tania Vander Meulon, Idaho, 18:03
Other Gaucho Scorers: (5) Desiree Leek, 18:13 (15) Stephanie Rothstein, 18:39 (16) Lauren Christman, 18:40 (17) Desiree DeJesus, 18:42 (22) Lisa Dunn, 18:50 (24) Lindsay Christman, 18:56 (51) Elizabeth Mallon, 19:45 (54) Seanna Martin, 19:54