Nov. 13, 2004
The UCSB women showed why they are ranked 17th in the county and 3rd in the NCAA Region, answering the challenge issued by several teams hoping to upset the Gauchos at the NCAA Western Regional Championships in Fresno. A blistering first mile put four UCLA runners in front of UCSB's top runner who was as far back as 30th place. But the Gauchos stuck with their race plan and gradually moved up during the 6k race. After two miles, juniors Lauren Christman and Stephanie Rothstein had moved into the top 15 of the race. With a mile to go Christman had cracked the top 10 and was still advancing on competition. With the finish closing in, she began to to unleash her 55 second 400m speed and moved up to 8th place covering the course in 20:48. It marks the highest finish ever for a UCSB woman at the Western Region Championships. Rothstein was close behind finishing 12th in 21:03.
"I didn't expect the crowd in front of me to maintain their position," said Rothstein who recently received a generous financial scholarship from an anonymous donor in response to some tough times involving finances and the loss of her father. "I kept picking people off and knew I'd finish in the range I wanted which was right around 12th."
The crucial action was further back as Desiree Leek returned to racing after being sick during the Big West Conference championships. Head Coach Pete Dolan instructed the senior to run a conservative first portion of the race, and assess herself with 2 miles to go. The La Jolla native felt good at her checkpoint and charged ahead followed by teammates Cosette Smith and Lindsay Christman. Eventually Smith made a strong move to rejoin Leek while Lindsay battled to maintain contact with her teammate. The move was enough to seal the third place position for the team as the trio finished with Leek in 23rd (21:21), Smith in 24th (21:22) and Christman in 25th (21:22). All three earned All Western Region Honors for the first time.
Because the Gauchos placed third, they did not achieve an automatic NCAA berth awarded to the top two teams. However the Gaucho coaches are absolutely certain that the team will earn an at-large berth and advance to the NCAA Championships in Indiana next Monday. "From our calculations we will earn at-large points based on our previous victories over Indiana, Arkansas, and West Virginia who took first or second in their region," said head coach Pete Dolan. The official announcement will be conducted early in the week.
Stanford won the race with 29 points with ASU taking second with 45 points. The Gauchos took 3rd with 92 points followed by a close battle between three times with Idaho in 4th with 140 points, University of Washington in 5th (143 points) and UCLA in 6th (151 points). The race marks the highest Regional finish for any UCSB Cross Country team in the program's history.