STANFORD, Calif - The men and women's cross country teams traveled up to Stanford, California this weekend to prove that they could have what it takes to be a championship team this season. Both made great strides in that direction.
The men's team was led by SR Adam Avila, who called upon his years of experience to run confidently with the top pack, as they navigated the ups, downs, and turns of the Stanford golf course. At the 5k mark, Avila took matters into his own hands and took lead of the race.
"I don't think we've ever had a Gaucho lead Stanford, in all the years we've raced here" reflected Head Coach Pete Dolan, "Before he came here, (Avila) was not a highly touted recruit. You wouldn't have thought that today".
Avila would fight over the next 3k to finish 6th overall, but was rewarded with a huge career best of 23:36.4.
George Baier would follow, finishing 14th in 23:51.8, the JR's first clocking under 24 minutes. FR Austin Lay would take over the #3 spot for the first time, running 24:25.2 for 25th overall. The team would be rounded out by JR Patrick Bourke and FR Daniel Mountcastle, recording times of 24:36.7 and 24:51.4 for 33rd and 42nd place.
"This was a more focused men's team that raced today" said Coach Dolan, "We are starting to look more like a team that could defend a Big West conference title".
The men finished 3rd overall with 114 points behind Cal Poly SLO and Cal Poly Pomona (D2). The Gauchos would defeat NCAA D1 west ranked teams St. Mary's (Cal), San Jose St., and Santa Clara.
The women were no less impressive as Jenna Hinkle once again proved she belongs with the best in the west. The JR ran a well-paced race to finish in the top 5 overall, with her fastest time yet, 20:31.1. She closed hard the final 800m to pass top runners from Stanford and Cal Poly SLO.
"Hinkle showed me today that we may have another athlete in our midst who could qualify to the NCAA National Meet this year as an individual" remarked Coach Dolan, "We had 2 do it last year and (Jenna) could keep that streak going."
Hinkle was backed up with a great team effort that solidified their 3rd place finish in the field of 16. The 2nd-5th scoring runners were only seperated by 13 places. SR Kelsey O'Connell made a great season debut, running 21:41.0 to finish alongside SO Miranda Ross, who recorded 21:41.2. They would finish 26th and 27th overall. The final scoring spots would go to the freshmen duo of Katie Camerena (32nd, 21:58.7) and Celeste Wilson (39th, 22:23.2). This would be Wilson's first race in UCSB uniform.
"The women ran for each other out there" concluded Coach Dolan, "I saw that passion in the way they raced."
The Gauchos will have a bye week before they head over to either Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, IN or the Bronco Invitational in Santa Clara, CA. Check back on UCSBgauchos for meet preview and like the team's Facebook and Twitter pages for photos and real-time updates.