Nov. 19, 2001
The Gaucho cross country program broke new ground on Monday, with their first NCAA appearance. The championship meet, hosted this year by Furman University in South Carolina, was won by Colorado, who overtook Stanford by one point. The Gauchos finished in 17th place amongst the competitive 31-team field of the country's elite teams.
UCSB was led by senior Josh Horton, who placed a stunning 17th place overall, in an effort that head coach Pete Dolan labeled, "his best race as a Gaucho." The Virginia native, which has earned him the name "Beast from the East", covered the 10,000 meter course in a blistering time of 29:49. Horton ran a typical Gaucho race, racing conservatively in 50th place through the first two miles, but moved up through the field during the final 4.2 miles.
"I felt winded through the first 400 meters of the race," said Horton. "But after the quick start, I relaxed and focused on executing my race plan."
Running second for the Gauchos, and concluding his cross country career at UCSB, was Goleta native Eric Gans. Gans finished in 102nd overall, but in the 79th team scoring position. "I can't help but be a little disappointed," said the fifth-year senior. "But I learned a lot from this high-caliber race, and hopefully that will translate to future benefits in track."
Rounding out the Gaucho performances was junior Brandon von Guenthner in 130th with a time of 31:15, senior Aaron Sharp (142, 31:25), junior J.T. Service (149, 31:28), sophomore Chris White (178, 31:49), and junior Bryon Lamorandier (215, 32:32).
Overall the team was reasonably pleased with their effort. Entering the season without even being ranked in the top ten for the West Region, the Gauchos exceeded almost everyone's expectations as a top 20 team. Even with the team's 17th place finish, they rank in the elite top 4% of all Division I programs in the NCAA's second-most participated sport behind basketball.
"We went into the meet for our first time and beat our ranking," said Dolan. "I'm pleased with our position, even though the guys were hoping for a top 10 finish."
As a team, this concludes a season for a team that can be considered the finest cross country team in UCSB history, and perhaps one of the university's most accomplished teams ever. With five of the top seven members of the program walking on to the program without scholarship money (Sharp and Lamorandier being the two exceptions), few teams have such a collection of overachievers.
The entire team will now take a break from running, but training for track season will resume shortly. The team and staff also wanted to extend a special thanks to the overwhelming support from parents, alumni, and fans they received during the season, especially those who made the trip across the country to support the team in South Carolina.