Men's Cross Country Heads to Big West Championships

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- The UC Santa Barbara men's cross-country team is gearing up for the Big West Conference Championships being held Saturday, Oct. 27 on the Ag/Ops Course on the UC Riverside campus. 

The Gauchos will have their sights set on chasing down the conference favorite, Cal Poly. 

"The men's team has four fifth year seniors who know the course inside and out, have trained really well this year and are as ready as they're ever going to be," head coach Pete Dolan said. "Whether they can beat Cal Poly or not, that's why we run the race, but I think we have a shot at it." 

Dolan believes that the team's experience is a major plus.

"They're going to have each others backs as fifth year seniors, he said.  "They have been through a lot together." 

The fantastic four include Juan Parades, Bhavik Kanzaria, Jeremy Acosta and Baxter Frick.   The first three were generally know commodities entering the year, but Frick has been a pleasant surprise. 

"Frick really came on this year and a lot of it was because of his desire to be up with the other guys," Dolan said.

So far this season the Gauchos have posted solid season best times. Acosta (24:31.2 at Pre-Nationals), Paredes (24:37.3 at Pre-Nationals), Kanzaria (24:37.5 at the UC Riverside Invitational) and Frick (24:55.9 at the UC Riverside Invitational) and Guijarro (24:51.4).

Freshman Bryan Guijarro had a breakout this season, surprising Dolan along with his teammates. 

"He floats," Dolan said. "Freshman usually don't make top seven and he made it. He's a great runner and he has the desire to win. When the gun goes off he's a racer…its something that you can't teach he just has it."

Guijarro's best time of 24:51.4 came in the Riverside meet, but he also ran a solid 25:00.2 at Pre-Nationals.

Completing the Gaucho lineup at the Big West Championship meet will be Anthony Ortolan and Abel Mogesse who have run solid times for UCSB in 2012.  Both also ran their best times on the Ag/Ops Course at UCR.  Ortolan ran a 24:44.9 while Mogesse clocked in at 24:56.9.

In addition to Cal Poy, which is ranked 10th in the West and UCSB, which is ranked 13th, UC Irvine (15th in the West), is expected to compete for a top finish.