Gauchos Picked to Finish Second in Big West's Preseason Men's Cross Country Poll

Aug. 18, 2006

Files associated with this release:
2006 Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll

After winning six of the previous eight Big West Cross Country Championships, it's no surprise Cal Poly is the unanimous selection by the coaches to win its fourth-straight championship. The Mustangs captured all seven first place votes on the way to 49 points to claim the top spot in the preseason poll announced today.

Cal Poly, which finished seventh at the NCAA West Regionals in 2005, returns five of the top 11 finishers from the Big West Championship a year ago. The returnees are headlined by senior Matt Johnsrud, who finished third at the Big West Championship and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships after a solid West Regional performance. Johnsrud is joined by senior Brian Baker, sophomore Alex Dunn, senior Luke Llamas and sophomore Troy Swier to give the Mustangs a group of runners capable of bringing home another title.

UC Santa Barbara was a near-unanimous second place pick after amassing 41 points. After a second-place finish at the 2005 Big West Championship, the Gauchos will look to bring home their first crown since 2001 led by the efforts of Chris Ashley and Mike Chavez. Ashley became the third UCSB athlete to win the individual crown at the Big West meet after crossing the finish line in a course-record time of 23:51. Chavez was solid all season long, finishing fifth at the Big West Championship and leading the Gaucho finishers at the West Regionals.

UC Irvine, which finished fifth at the Big West Championship in 2005, checked in at third in the poll with 34 tallies, while UC Riverside claimed the fourth slot with 25 points. Rounding out the poll were Long Beach State (24), Cal State Fullerton (15) and Cal State Northridge (8).

Men's Cross Country Coaches Poll Results

1. Cal Poly (7) - 49
2. UC Santa Barbara - 41
3. UC Irvine - 34
4. UC Riverside - 25
5. Long Beach State - 24
6. Cal State Fullerton - 15
7. Cal State Northridge - 8
( ) First-place votes