SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- The UC Santa Barbara women's cross-country team is gearing up for the Big West Conference Championships which will be held Saturday, Oct. 27 on the Ag/Ops Course at UC Riverside.
The Gauchos, ranked 12th in the region, will be aiming at top-seeded UC Davis, which is currently ranked sixth in the region. Fellow Big West members Cal Poly (11th) and UC Riverside (14th) are also among the top-15 in the West.
"Conference-wise, Davis is the clear favorite," said UCSB head coach Pete Dolan. "Cal Poly is ranked ahead of us in the region but I think we're right there with them. Riverside is also really good this year. It's going to be a fight for second. I'm not saying that we can't win but Davis is in charge on paper."
Sophomore Dani Moreno has led the Gauchos all season and is again expected to do so at the Big West meet. Over the summer, Moreno committed herself to training at altitude in Yosemite and that training has paid off.
"Everyone expected Dani to be the team leader this year," Dolan said. "It's no surprise that Dani has been doing so well, we expect her to be good and she's able to handle the pressure."
"Cassie Brooker and Ari Selix reached a new level this year at Stanford," Dolan said. "Cassie, as a fifth-year runner, has been the biggest surprise."
Moreno, Brooker and Selix all recorded their top 6k times this season at the UC Riverside Invitational, on the same course they will run on Saturday. Moreno clocked a 20:44.2, Brooker a 21:19.2 and Selix ran a 21:25.3. That trio will be joined by Christine Cooperstein (21:29.5), Bailey Miller (21:38.4) and Jessica Chadwick (21:54.4), all of whom also ran their best times at Riverside, at the championship meet.
UCSB, which has won eight Big West women's cross country titles during Dolan's tenure, always seems to peak at the right time.
"They (his runners) aren't doing anything special, just doing what we do every year," he said. "We're always ready to go at conference championship time so all they have to do is be Gauchos and they will be at their best. "We're less rattled than most teams. We have a good reputation and we know what we're doing at the meet."