November 1, 2007

Gauchos Sweep Big West Women's Cross Country Honors

Nov. 1, 2007

IRVINE, Calif. - Senior Bethany Nickless was named 2007 Big West Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year, while Pete Dolan earned the Women's Coach of the Year honor and Breanne Strenkowski was named the league's Female Freshman of the Year, the Big West announced Wednesday.

Nickless, who won two Big West Athlete of the Week awards this season, continued the tradition of strong UCSB runners with her Athlete of the Year award, marking the fifth time in the last seven years a Gaucho has claimed the honor. She finished second at the Big West Championships after an eighth place finish a season ago. Nickless was very impressive down the stretch for 27th-ranked UC Santa Barbara, including a 22nd place finish at Pre-Nationals and a seventh place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational.

Strenkowski becomes the first UCSB runner to claim Freshman of the Year in the three-year history of the award. She was the highest freshman finisher at the Big West Championships, running the 6K course in 22:57.1 for 22nd place. Strenkowski was solid all year in her first season at UCSB, posting times of 23:41 at the Roy Griak and 22:24 at Pre-Nationals.

Dolan led the Gauchos to another strong season on the way to his second consecutive Coach of the Year award and seventh overall. His nationally-ranked Gauchos won their second straight Big West crown and fourth in the last five seasons. UCSB also had a number of impressive finishes on the national level, highlighted by a fourth place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational, 11th in the Pre-Nationals Blue Division race and second at the Aztec Invitational .