UC Santa Barbara Tabbed as Favorite for 2006 Women's Cross Country Title

Aug. 18, 2006

Files associated with this release:
2006 Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll

UC Santa Barbara was chosen as a near-unanimous selection to take home the 2006 Big West Women's Cross Country Championship as voted by the league's eight head coaches. The Gauchos received seven of eight first place votes on the way to tallying 63 points for the top slot.

UCSB, whose quest for three-straight Big West titles fell short a year ago, is led by seniors Lauren Christman, Lindsay Christman and Stephanie Rothstein. Lauren Christman picked up 2004 Athlete of the Year honors and won the 2004 Big West meet, while her sister Lindsay finished just over three seconds later. Rothstein won the 2003 individual crown at the conference meet and also picked up Athlete of the Year honors. Bethany Nickless, who finished fifth at the Big West Championships in 2005, as well as sophomores Danielle Domenichelli and Liza Hitchner give the Gauchos three talented runners that finished in the top 20 a year ago at the conference championship. With a deep and experienced lineup of runners, UCSB aims to return to the top of the Big West and make a serious run for the NCAA Championships.

UC Irvine, the defending Big West Champions, claimed second place in the poll with 53 points. The Anteaters claimed their first title since 1999 last season on the strength of a talented group of underclassmen. Sophomore Laura Olvera, the 2005 Big West Freshman of the Year, finished behind only departed teammate Amber Steen at last year�s Championship. Olvera is joined by juniors Marie Nguyen and Candice Proctor which gives UCI three runners from the Top 11 finishers. The trio is joined by a talented supporting cast which should give the Anteaters a solid chance to repeat as champions.

Long Beach State, which finished third at the Big West Championship last year, is picked to finish third this season with 48 points, while Cal Poly picked up the remaining first place vote on its way to the fourth slot with 38 tallies. UC Riverside is picked fifth with 30 points, while Cal State Fullerton (28), Cal State Northridge (18) and Pacific (10) round out the poll.

Women's Cross Country Coaches Poll Results

1. UC Santa Barbara (7) - 63
2. UC Irvine - 53
3. Long Beach State - 48
4. Cal Poly (1) - 38
5. UC Riverside - 30
6. Cal State Fullerton - 28
7. Cal State Northridge - 18
8. Pacific - 10
( ) First-place votes