Sept. 24, 2005
Taking the team racing Coach Dolan had talked about leading into the Stanford Invitational to heart, the Gauchos ran as a pack for half of the race and then finished strong to take 3rd out of 32 teams with 105 pts. The hosts, Stanford, won the Men's 8,000m (4.98 miles) Invitational with 51pts. Josh McDougal of Liberty won the individual title in a course record 23:24 minutes.
Racing a full squad for the first time all season, within a mile the Gauchos had a large pack racing together. Coming through the mile in approximately 4:55 they found themselves quite a bit off the front pack but together as a team. McDougal of Liberty, a group of Stanford and Chico St. athletes continued to push up front.
Going through the tunnel approaching the three-mile mark, the Gauchos still had their large pack in tact. Chris Ashley (Jr.), Tim Aukshunas (So.), Art Avitia (Jr.), Scott Brandos (Sr.), Alex Cardiasmenos (Sr.), Mike Chavez (Jr.) and Scott McConville (Sr.) among other Gauchos all found themselves in the 40th-50th place range. With a long gradual uphill awaiting them over the next mile they began to make their move.
Ashley and Chavez worked together up front passing runner after runner. They moved into the top twenty and continued to charge down the hill after the four-mile mark. Ashley would go onto finish tenth in 24:10, a seventeen second personal best, with teammate Chavez taking 11th in 24:17, a thirty second PR.
McConville, continuing his great improvement in Cross Country for the '05 season, he would go onto finish in 24:39, a 48 second PR and just outside the top twenty in 24th place. Brandos, running well for the first time since 2002 after lingering injuries kept him from running at full strength was 30th in 24:45. Aukshunas, the Gauchos fifth scorer came in at 32nd with a time of 24:48.
Rounding out the Gaucho top seven, Cardiasmenos was 35th in 24:51 and Avitia took 39th in 24:55. Avitia as their seventh runner was faster than any other #7 runner in the whole field with Stanford's coming in at 57th and Chico St. at 60th showing the depth the Gauchos have early in the season.
Looking onto the "Big 4" meets - Pre-Nationals, Conference, Regionals and Nationals - the Gauchos took away some important information about the 2005 squad. Up front Ashley and Chavez are starting off their season right where they left off after grabbing All-Conference finishes in 2004. They were in times of at the Stanford Invite last year.
Behind them the 3-7 runners ran close together which will be important in the big races coming up. Micah Tyhurst (So.) the Gauchos top long distance runner during the Track & Field campaign is closer to being100% healthy as he may be a factor in three weeks. He finished as the Gauchos 8th runner today in 47th with a 25:05.
Regionally and Nationally the Gauchos took down Regional rivals Cal Berkeley by 50pts. The Bears finished 5th with 155pts. just behind Liberty who was 4th with 148pts. Liberty having two of the top runners in the nation may surprise some in their Region, but to grab an automatic spot in the Southeast and thus a valuable at-large point for the Gauchos would be a long shot, as they are not currently ranked in the top 15 of the Southeast Region and they would have to take down current nationally ranked #16 William & Mary and #18 NC State.
The Gauchos next travel to Terra Haute, IN for the Pre-National Meet on October 15th in which a large number of the top fifty teams in Division I competition will be present. The Big West Conference Championships will take place two weeks later on the 28th.