Nov. 16, 2003
PORTLAND, Ore. - Jeff Gardina's outstanding 11th place finish at Saturday's West Region Championship earned him a spot at the NCAA Division I National Championship. The Gauchos finished 11th with 282 points in the 26 team field. There were 176 finishers that survived the cold and wet conditions of Portland's Blue Lake Park.
Gardina, a junior from Santa Rosa, covered the 10 kilometer grass course in 30:07, to advance to the NCAA meet to be held Monday November 24th in Waterloo, Iowa, and earn All-West Region honors by placing among the top 25. To put Gardina's performance in perspective, he ran to the second highest individual finish by a Gaucho male at the Regional meet in program history, besting Dave Cullum's 13th place finish from 1995. Josh Horton finished 7th in 2001. Both Horton and Cullum went on to earn NCAA All-American honors at UCSB.
Senior Team Co-Captain Chris White concluded his Gaucho cross country career finishing 43rd in 30:50. White, who missed the Big West championship due to food poisoning, caught another bad break Saturday having to stop and readjust his shoe in the first mile after being stepped on by another runner. Despite losing about 60 places, White made a big move getting back up into the top 50 by half-way, but was unable to advance much further after playing catch-up for the first half of the race.
Fifth-year senior Team Co-Captain David Monico also concluded his Gaucho cross country career on Saturday as Santa Barbara's third man, coming in 74th at 31:37. Red-shirt freshman Stew Harwell was 76th in 31:42 and sophomore Art Avitia capped off the Gaucho scoring at 78th with a time of 31:43.
Stanford's Ian Dobson won the race in 29:32, followed by teammate Ryan Hall in 29:33. Robert Cheseret of Arizona came in third at 29:35. Stanford runners took the next three spots followed by Ryan Craig of Portland in 7th and Big West Champion Sean Ricketts of Cal Poly in 8th. Another Cardinal runner took ninth, while Gardina finished just behind 10th place Jonah Maiyo of Arizona to become the fourth and final automatic individual qualifier. The top four individual finishers who are not on an automatic qualifying team advance to the NCAA meet.
#1 Stanford ran away with the team title totaling just 18 points while Ricketts led #15 Cal Poly to second at 110 to secure the second automatic team qualifying spot to the national meet. #27 Arizona took third at 132, followed by #20 Washington (162), #12 Oregon (164), Portland (169), UCLA (178), #25 Arizona State (189), Washington State (252), and Cal (257) ahead of UCSB in 11th at 282.
Stanford took control of the race early with Dobson and Hall leading the charge. Only Cheseret and Craig could hang with the top five Cardinal runners by 3200 meters. Meanwhile Gardina started just inside the top 50 at 1600m and methodically moved up through the field, eventually battling for 10th in the later stages of the race with Oregon's top finisher, Eric Logsdon. Gardina pulled away from Logsdon in the final 200m, but was edged for 10th by a hard closing Maiyo just before the finish line.
The national championship 10k race will start at 11am CST, at Irv Warren Park in Waterloo, Iowa on Monday November 24th. The complete field that Gardina will face at the NCAA meet will be announced on Monday November 17th. Arizona is expected to join Stanford and Cal Poly by securing an at-large spot, while Washington, Oregon and Portland will also be under consideration to advance to Iowa out of the extremely competitive West Region.