September 12, 2001
SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
The UCSB men's cross country team is out for redemption.
The disappointing finale to last year's successful season, a second-place tie at the Big West Championships and a dismal ninth at the NCAA Regional Meet, all left the Gauchos with a bad taste in their mouth. It's a taste that they don't want to have again, and a taste that has given them the motivation to train hard through track season and the summer, in preparation for what could be their year.
"There's an anticipation this year that has never been known to the program before," said head coach Pete Dolan.
With an all-star pack of talented veterans, including Eric Gans (second at 2000 Big West Cross Country Championships), Josh Horton (15th in the 10,000 meters at the 2001 NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Championships), Brandon von Guenthner (eighth at the 2000 Big West Cross Country Championships), Aaron Sharp (third in the 10,000 at the 2001 Big West Track and Field Championships), and Steve Rider (3rd fastest 5,000 meter time in the Big West Conference) it looks like the Gauchos will be both strong and deep in 2001.
"It's awesome," said Gans. "There's nine or 10 guys that could be in the top five for us. I love it!"
Last year's top runners and fifth-year seniors Gans and Horton know that the season is a long one, with the Big West Championships set for Oct. 27 and the Regionals two weeks later, and that consistent hard work is the only way they will get there.
The ultimate team goal is the same as last year's, to get to the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country Championships. But this year the big meet is in South Carolina, not Iowa, and the Gauchos have both the physical talent and the mental toughness to make it all the way to Furman University.
All UCSB events are on hold until further developments in light of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in new York and Washington, D.C. That includes the UCSB Lagoon meet on Saturday, in the which the Gauchos will race against Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Westmont, and the UCSB Alumni team (which nearly gave the current Gauchos a surprise in last year's meet). It's still not certain if the Mustangs, last year's Big West Champions, will be bringing their 'A' team, but either way UCSB is hungry to beat their rivals.
"Our plans for that race are to get a good workout," said Horton before Tuesday's events. "But if they bring their No. 1 guys then we're gonna go after them. We can't have them come into our house and beat us."