SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UCSB men's and women's cross country teams are headed to Seattle, WA to take on the west in the NCAA West Regional. Hosted by the University of Washington, the competition will take place at the Jefferson Park Golf Course. The men will step up from their conference distance of 8,000m to a 10,000m course. The women will remain at the 6,000m distance.
The UCSB men enter the competition ranked ninth in the West Region and are receiving three votes for the top-30 NCAA Rankings list. By virtue of their back-to-back Big West team title, they are the highest ranked conference team heading into the regional competition.
The UCSB women were unknowns all throughout the regular season, failing to crack into the regional ranking index. But that all changed on Big West weekend. Running a complete 1-5 team race, the Gaucho women placed second in the team battle and broke into the West Regional rankings, landing at #12. Cal Poly's women are the highest ranked Big West squad, coming in at #7.
NCAA West Regional Rundown
Where: Jefferson Park Golf Course is the official name of the site.
When: Women's 6,000m 12PM
Men's 10,000m 1pm
There are 32 men's teams and 37 women's teams in the field.
Live Results link: There is a link on there to follow RTSPT on twitter for more live updates
Early Entries: These will be finalized at the coaches meeting on Thursday evening.
Meet Home Page: All the info you would need will be available on the championship page here.
Parking Note: Anyone who may be attending the meet, be it media or fans or you yourselves, be aware that parking around the course is extremely challenging. By having this race on a week day, area parking is extremely limited, as the course is right next to a hospital.
How to Qualify
The qualifying process for the NCAA Championships has many tiers. It is a complicated process but here is a breakdown of how it works:
The top-two teams from each NCAA Regional will advance to the NCAA Championship
The top four individuals not on qualifying teams will advance as long as they finish in the top-25.
Thirteen teams and two individuals will be chosen by an NCAA Subcommittee on Saturday, November 14th for at-large selections. The Subcommittee will use a variety of data to make their picks, including regular season performances at bigger competitions.
UCSB West Regional Entries
The UCSB squads opened the year against Cal Poly in the annual Lagoon Race. The UCSB men defeated a stout Mustang squad 24-33, Bryan Guijarro took the win andAnthony Ortolan finished third. Andrew Farkas sealed the victory with his fifth place showing. Brad Littooy ran No. 4 and George Baier ran No. 5- solid showings from the Gauchos two engineering studs.
The UCSB women lost to Cal Poly 17 to 43. Maxine Goyette placed fifth overall and opened the year with her first ever showing at the No. 1 slot. Tori Tsolis ran No. 2 and Sarah Schreck ran No. 3 for the Gauchos. A young sophomore named Jenna Hinkle opened the year at No. 5, keep that name in mind.
UC Riverside Invite
The UCSB men executed a brilliant race strategy at the UC Riverside Invite, finishing with a scant seven second spread between their No.1-5 runners. The men placed second as a team, losing only to Southern Utah, a Mountain Region powerhouse in recent years. Ortolan ran No. 1, Farkas ran No. 2, Baier ran No. 3, Adam Avila ran No. 4 and newcomer George Degen took the fifth place slot. Degen is a former All-American from Carnegie Mellon in his last year of eligibility at UCSB. He is enrolled in the Chemical Engineering doctorate program.
The UCSB women were equally impressive, finishing their No.1-5 runners within 19 seconds to place third overall in the team battle. Goyette again ran No. 1, finishing the 6,000m course in 21:38. O'Connell moved up to No. 2 for the first time in her career, finishing in 21:41. Tsolis ran No. 3, finishing in 21:42, right on O'Connell's hip. Schreck ran No. 4 and Hinkle again ran No. 5 in 21:57.
The Stanford story line was all about the UCSB women. Schreck led the Gauchos to a fifth place showing out of a whopping 30 team field which included six total Big West squads, three of whom the Gauchos defeated. Schreck placed 28th overall in 21:47. Tsolis stepped up to the No. 2 spot, finishing in 21:49. O'Connell dropped under 22 minutes, finishing in 21:54 to fill the No. 3 position. Hinkle improved gradually, moving up to No. 4. Freshman Tori Yanco moved into the scoring line-up for the first time in her young career at No. 5.
Degen headlined the Stanford Invite for the UCSB men. While the bulk of the squad readied for the Notre Dame Invitational, Degen took the reins and covered the Stanford course in 24:46, a new personal best.
Notre Dame Invite
The Gaucho men gained valuable experience while racing shorthanded at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. Running without thoroughbred Guijarro in the line-up, Vaziri showed his leadership by breaking into the No. 1 spot for the first time in his career. Littooy took advantage of the moment himself, moving into the No. 2 slot, showing he is capable of withstanding the late race pain seen week in and week out at this level. In another first, Carlos Guijarro moved into the No. 3 position. The younger brother of Bryan, Carlos finished in 25:03, over a ten second PR. Ortolan ran in No. 4, finishing well despite battling a sickness all week. Farkas took the No. 5 slot.
The Gauchos defeated one ranked team in Arizona State, then #18 on the national rankings list.
Down but not out, the Gauchos returned to Santa Barbara, foaming at the mouth to return to action.
Head Coach Pete Dolan knew his guys we're ready to turn the corner so he entered them as planned in the Pre-National preview hosted by Louisville. Initially scheduled to race in the "unseeded" division, Dolan had to do some convincing to get his men into the main event.
The Gauchos took advantage of the opportunity, placing tenth in a loaded 42 team field, knocking off three ranked teams when the dust settled. Guijarro was back with a vengeance, placing 32nd overall, earning his second Big West Athlete of the Week honor on the season. Ortolan, all caught up on his sleep returned to the No. 2 position. Vaziri ran a strong race, taking the No. 3 slot for the Gauchos. Adam Avila ran No. 4 and Littooy continued his hot streak, staying in the scoring column at No. 5.
The Gaucho women placed 15th out of 35 teams in the "unseeded" race. In another stellar display of team racing, the Gauchos placed their No. 1-5 runners within 20 seconds. Sophomore Jenna Hinkle delivered a breakout performance, taking the No. 1 spot for the first time in her career. Hinkle stayed with the pack well into the race before pulling away down the home stretch.
Big West Championships
The UCSB men swept the top three places at the Big West Cross Country Championship, using the strength of their front pack to hold off the Cal Poly Mustangs. Completing their first title defense in school history, the Gauchos placed all of their runners inside the top-12 and edged Cal Poly 31-36. The UCSB women arguably put together their finest performance in several years, placing second to a red-hot Cal Poly squad. This was the highest finish for the UCSB women since 2010 when they won their last conference title- since then, they have finished third in four consecutive championship meets.
Link to Big West Article
Check back with UCSBgauchos.com for a race recap and results.