SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The 2-time defending Big West Champs knew they were going to have their hands full this year with the Mustangs from Cal Poly. The rivals from San Luis Obispo finished just 4 points behind them at last year's Conference Championships and only graduated one senior from their scoring lineup. Yesterday, that squad proved its experience by soundly defeating the Gauchos 19-40 in the first dual meet of the year. UCSB Seniors George Baier and Adam Avila were the Gaucho's 1 & 2 runners and finished 4th and 6th with times of 24:59 and 25:07 for the 8K course. JR Patrick Bourke finished 7th in a time of 25:21 and was the last Gaucho to finish ahead of Cal Poly's 5th scorer. RS Freshman Austin Lay and Jack Rose rounded out the scoring in 10th and 11th place, recording times of 25:32 and 26:18.
The Gaucho men this year find themselves with an almost entirely new scoring team, relying now more on underclassmen to achieve their desired results. "It was an OK race, remarked Head Coach Pete Dolan, "it was good to see some of our returners racing healthy and I was happy with the performances of the new freshmen." "This team will need to work very hard and raise the bar every meet to contend for another title."
The Gaucho women, who finished 2nd in Big West last year, was in a similar situation as they faced last years conference champs. The Gauchos fell 19-44 in dual meet scoring to a deep and talented Mustang contingent that put 5 in the top 6 places overall. The race was highlighted, however, by UCSB's number one runner, Jenna Hinkle putting forth an impressive performance to place 2nd in a time of 17:47 on the 5k course. The Junior comes off a breakthrough track season and should be a dominant force in the season to come. Following her, True Freshman Katie Camerena placed 9th in 18:34 for her first race in UCSB uniform and was followed by JR Jade Fuller in 18:39 (10th), SO Tori Yanco in 18:56 (11th), TR FR Isa Marshall in 18:59 (12th), and RS FR Sabrina Janes in 19:09 to round out the scoring in 13th.
Coach Dolan was pleased with the women's team effort, especially with the season debut of Hinkle. This year's top 5 had a faster team time on this course than last year (1:32:57 to 1:33:17) that is a good indicator of the group's potential as the season progresses.
The Gauchos will embark on their annual team training camp up in Mammoth Lakes, CA where they hope to get in some quality training and team bonding before they race at the UC Riverside Invitational on September 17th. Check back at UCSBGauchos.com and follow the team on Facebook and Twitter for additional photo coverage and news.