Men's Cross Country Looking to Capture Big West Championship and Return to Nationals

Men's Cross Country Looking to Capture Big West Championship and Return to Nationals

Aug. 29, 2008

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UCSB men's cross country team, set to open its season this weekend in their only home race of 2008, is now one year removed from their 2006 NCAA Championships appearance and is poised to make a run at reclaiming that honor. The last two seasons the Gauchos have finished second to Cal Poly in the Conference Championships and this year are determined to seize the crown from their Big West rivals.

According to Assistant Coach Avery Blackwell,"We have the potential. Now it's a matter a staying focused, not getting injured and making sacrifices".

A youthful team will be led by senior Scott Smith and junior Julian DeRubira. Smith was the first Gaucho across the line at the 2007 Conference Championships, finishing in seventh place. A versatile athlete, Smith also ran track for UCSB, competing in both the 1500 meters and the steeplechase. In 2007 he displayed his perseverance by qualifying for the Big West Championships in the steeplechase despite fracturing his elbow earlier in the Mt. SAC Invitational.

DeRubira is coming off of a 2007 season in which he placed ninth overall at the Big West Championships and posted an impressive time of 24:32 at the Pre-Nationals. DeRubira is also a multi-sport athlete competing in the 800 meters, 1500 meters and 5K races.

"Running is a pure sport and when you get down to the simplicity of it, it's beautiful," Blackwell said.

This year the men's team is trying to keep it simple. Coach Blackwell noted that they have been stressing pack running, core strength, and a proper diet. The men have been running individually all summer and have been training as a team now for a few weeks with clear goals in sight.

This weekend will be the men's first test as they face Cal Poly and Westmont in the home opener. The UCSB Lagoon Open will take place at the campus lagoon, behind the University Center. The event, which is also a fundraiser for the team, will kick off with an alumni and community 5K race, and will culminate with the men's 8K race.