Men finish strong 2nd, Women 3rd at 2016 Big West XC Championships

Men finish strong 2nd, Women 3rd at 2016 Big West XC Championships

KAHUKU, Hawai'i- The UCSB men's and women's cross country teams both turned in top 3 finishes at the 2016 Big West Championships hosted by University of Hawaii - Manoa. The men finished as the Big West runner-up team with 53 points to Cal Poly SLO's 18. The women finished 3rd with 96 points behind Cal Poly SLO and UC Davis.

This marks the 24th time the Gaucho men, and 19th time the Gaucho women have notched a top 3 finish in the Big West Conference since Head Coach Pete Dolan took the helms 30 years ago.  
 
 
Cal Poly SLO 18
UC Santa Barbara 53
Cal St. Fullerton 83
UC Irvine 98
Long Beach St. 163
UC Davis 165
UC Riverside 169
Cal St. Northridge 202

Leading the Gauchos in his final Big West championships was Adam Avila. In the blistering wind and rain, the senior took control of the race early and set a pace for the rest of the field. When all was said and done, Avila would walk away having earned 4th in a time of 24:54, a career best placing.
 
Carlos Guijarro followed Avila to be the men's 2nd runner for the first time this season. The junior stepped up in a big way, executing a strong and focused race that rewarded him with 8th place in 25:24. He took George Baier with him, who closed hard to grab 10th in 25:29. This was the first top-10 finish for both of these juniors.
 
The team's 2nd place finish would be ensured by the performances of Jackson Bright and Austin Lay, both in their Big West Championships debut. Bright started out smart and steadily moved up the entirety of the race to finish 14th in 25:39. Lay would rally the last mile, passing 5 runners to earn 17th in 25:45.
 
"This was our best showing all year" Head Coach Pete Dolan commented to the men after the race, "Of course you always want more here and there, but I think we did was well as we could have done out there. The patience paid off."
 Big West Men's Top 10 (Courtesy Andrew Lee/Hawaii Media Source)


Cal Poly SLO 27
UC Davis 72
UC Santa Barbara 96
Cal St. Fullerton 97
Hawai'i 124
UC Riverside 129
UC Irvine 197
Cal St. Northridge 224
Long Beach St. 246

 

The women were once again led by a brilliant performance from front-runner Jenna Hinkle. The junior has enjoyed a banner year and now can add Big West runner-up to her list of accomplishments. Never wavering from the front pack, Hinkle outlasted last year's Big West champion Faith Makau and gave chase to nationally ranked Peyton Bilo from Cal Poly. She would finish 2nd in 21:21, up 10 places from just a year ago.

Senior Kelsey O'Connell would end her Big West career with a 15th place finish in 22:34, maneuvering the race in the chase pack. Miranda Ross would follow in 21st with a time of 22:46, outkicking two girls from Cal St. Fullerton in the final meters of the race.
 
And in their first Big West Championship, freshmen Celeste Williams and Isa Marshall would put together solid debuts to finish 29th and 32nd in times of 23:15 and 23:23.
 
"It was a bit disappointing to drop to 3rd this year, but we can take a lot from this race into Regionals" Coach Dolan communicated to the women, "Hinkle demonstrated again that she has a real shot (at Nationals) in a few weeks and we are only going to be better from this experience".
Big West Women's Top 10 (Courtesy Andrew Lee/Hawaii Media Source)
 
UP NEXT

The postseason will continue with the NCAA D1 West Regional meet in Sacramento on Nov. 11, sending qualifiers to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 19.

Check out photos from the race and leadup to Regionals on the team's Facebook Twitter & Instagram.