Oct. 15, 2005
It was not meant to be for the Gaucho Men today in their quest for a National Championship bid. Racing in the Blue section, the first of two men's heats the Gauchos finished in 20th out of 33 teams with 490 points at the NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, IN. UCSB will have to finish possibly in the top five at the Regional Championships to get considered for Nationals as they probably did not pick up any at-large points this afternoon.
Nonetheless, it was the Gauchos highest finish since 2001 and arguably still ranks them within the top 50 teams in Div. I competition as they would have finished in 16th or 17th place in the White race this afternoon. Stanford won the Blue race with 89 points.
Leading the charge for the Men was Junior Mike Chavez who ran one of his best races in Cross Country for UCSB. In a very deep race with 13 of the top 35 teams in the country present, Chavez finished 57th out of 217 athletes in a time of 24:40. The top five men for the Gauchos all were within forty-nine seconds of each other but it would take a much greater effort today to break into the top twenty teams as only 100 team points separated the Gauchos in 20th and the 13th place team in the race.
Going out a bit slower than planned, Chavez and fellow Junior Chris Ashley went through the 5,000m in 15:28 and 15:31 respectively just within the top one hundred racers. Behind them were Art Avitia (Jr.) in 15:40, Alex Cardiasmenos (Sr.) in 15:43, Scott Brandos (Sr.) in 15:50 and alongside him, Scott McConville was also 15:50 coming through 5k.
Finding themselves farther back than had hoped the Gauchos had some work to do to catch the teams ahead. Chavez, Ashley and Avitia began this charge as Chavez found himself battling two of Cal Poly SLO's top runners. Chavez would move all the way up into the top sixty as each athlete battled hard to not let him pass. Coming across the line in 24:40 it marked a thirty-three second personal best on the course over last year's 25:13 effort.
Ashley who had previously run alongside Chavez in 2004 and in 2005 leading up to this race was bit off his game finishing in 79th in a time of 24:53, still a twenty second best over last year. Avitia, running one his best races for the Gauchos in a big meet was just three seconds back of Ashley in 24:56 as he grabbed 86th place.
Rounding out the top five, McConville was 25:16 in 123rd place and Brandos was 25:29 in 145th. For McConville, it was his first Pre-Nationals experience and Brandos's first time back since 2002.
The Gauchos now look toward the Big West Conference Championships as they go into it ranked 2nd. Cal Poly SLO, the unanimous pick to win the Big West Championships as they were ranked 14th in the country going into the Pre-National Meet will most likely fall back into the 20's as they under performed this afternoon. A strong showing by the Gauchos in Riverside, CA in two weeks could give the Mustangs a good run for the title.