October 27, 2005

Big West Championship Preview

Oct. 27, 2005

Big West Conference Preview

Big West Entries

20 Questions w/Bethany Nickless

The Gaucho Women's Cross Country squad travel down to Riverside, CA for the Big West Championships being held at the UC Riverside Agricultural Operations Course. The Women enter the meet as two-time defending champions. Site of the 2002 & 2004 Championships the Women will look to defend their title over 6,000m beginning at 9am.

The ladies go into the Championships as co-favorites with UC Irvine. Without four of their top-returning women from the 2004 squad, the Gauchos have maintained their position at the top of the Conference with last year's depth and some new faces. Head Coach Pete Dolan, remarked that the Big West Championships are, "the most exciting time of my professional career. I sense the thrill and enjoyment that our athletes experience of the head to head competition".

UCSB has a pack of six that will attempt to bring home the title. Bethany Nickless (So.) out of Huntington Beach, CA was the ladies top runner at the Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, IN and will be racing in the Championships for the first time in her career. Nickless had a breakthrough race dipping under 22min. for the first time on a 6,000m course. She finished 70th in 21:49 out of 232 athletes, the fastest 6k time in the Big West this year.

Seanna Martin (Sr.) out of Murphy's, CA will be racing in her last Conference Championships. Commenting on the team's chances she stated with confidence, "I am expecting the team to come through and if that does happen then we have a chance to win." Racing solidly at the Stanford Invitational, she was the third Big West finisher in Palo Alto and UCSB's #1 in a time of 22:24 for 6k.

Hadas Moser (Jr.) of Irvine, CA, the Conference's top returner from last year's Championships will also be an important factor in the Gaucho's quest. Having some off races in her last two meets she will look to rally in Riverside for the team at the front of the race. She was 17th a year ago at UCR.

The other Senior on the squad comes from Davis, CA. Leslie Alexander, another Gaucho who has come on strong in the latter stages of her career has been a constant top five scorer in 2005 through her determination in the later stages of the race. She set a personal best for 6k last year at the Championships in 22:17 finishing in 38th.

A pair of Freshman from Northern California have also contributed throughout the year for UCSB. Liza Hitchner out of Half Moon Bay and Danielle Domenichelli from El Dorado Hills will look to round out the Gaucho top 5 providing support in bringing home the Gauchos third title. Others competing include Christie Farson (Jr.), Kristina Moore (Fr.) and Laura Zung (Sr.).

Looking to oust the Women from the top of the podium will be Irvine. They return two of their top women from '04 and add Steen, a transfer from ASU as well as Freshman Olvera who has been running strong all season. Individually, Kramon of Long Beach was 2nd in the Big West 10,000m final during track. LBSU also returns Blalock who may mix things up front. Other contenders for those prized All-Conference spots will be Camy of Northridge, Martinas of UCR and Blasquez of Cal St. Fullerton.

Admission is free to the Big West Championships. The festivities begin at 8am with the Men's 8,000m race.