Oct. 14, 2005
Looking to qualify for the National Championships for the first time since 2001, when that Gaucho squad finished 17th in the Country, the 2005 UCSB squad returns to Terre Haute, IN as they hope to earn some at-large points for the Div. I Cross Country Championships on November 21st.
This year's Pre-Nationals will feature seventy-seven Div. I men's programs, including twenty-seven of the top forty teams split into two races vying for valuable points toward a berth at the National Championships on November 21st. In order to qualify for the National Championships a team must either do one of two things.
They may grab one of two automatic qualifying spots by finishing first or second at the Regional race (9 regions) or it may be one of thirteen teams to qualify at-large. In order to qualify at-large a team must earn points by beating another team from another region who qualifies automatically to the National Championships. A committee than goes around the country with the Regional results in hand and selects its 13 teams for the NCAA Div. I Championships.
With so many teams from different regions in Terre Haute this weekend it has become the most important meet of each for these potential "at-large" teams and provide a sneak peak at what may be in store at Cross Country Nationals. The Gauchos currently lie in 8th place in the West Region, arguably the toughest region to come out of in 2005 with the top seven teams currently ranked in the top 35.
Drawing the first race of the day, the Gauchos will race in the Men's Blue Race set to go at 11am Central Time. Scheduled to compete are thirteen of the top thirty-five teams ranked in the Coaches Poll on October 4th. UCSB will look for a few teams of the thirty-three teams entered in the Blue race to potentially score some points off of. Going into the weekend, Dartmouth ranks 22nd in the country and 2nd in the Northeast, Florida St. is ranked 17th and 2nd in the South, #21 Indiana is ranked 4th in the Great Lakes, #28 Kansas is ranked 3rd in the Midwest, #23 NC State currently lies in 3rd in the Southeast, #29 Virginia ranks 2nd in the Southeast and #15 William & Mary is 1st in the Southeast. All will toe the line against a veteran Gaucho squad.
After a disappointing 2004 Pre-Nationals, the men are looking for redemption and have thus far proven they may be ready. Leading the pack for the second year in a row is the now third year duo, Chris Ashley and Mike Chavez. At the Stanford Invitational three weeks ago, they finished 10th and 11th respectively with times in the low 24 minutes for 8,000m. Supporting them will be Seniors Scott Brandos, Alex Cardiasmenos and Scott McConville along with Juniors Tim Aukshunas and Art Avitia. A good showing here by the Gauchos will keep them on track for the National Championships on November 21st back in Indiana.