Oct. 25, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The men's and women's UCSB cross country teams will travel to San Luis Obispo on Saturday for the Big West Conference Championships. Both teams will be striving to duplicate their strong results from last year.
The women's team, currently ranked 24th in the country, will be looking to win a second consecutive conference title. They have performed well in the meets leading up to this weekend, having placed in the top 5 in three of the four meets they have entered this season. Highlights include a fourth-place showing at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational, and an 11th-place finish at the Pre-National Invitational, a meet that is considered to be a prequel to the NCAA Championships.
Leading the way for the Gauchos will be seniors Megan Lewis and Bethany Nickless. Nickless has strung together a series of notable results over the last month, and will be looking to keep the momentum rolling into this integral portion of the season. She was recently named a tri-winner of the women's cross country Big West Athlete of the Week award after her performance at the Pre-Nationals, sharing the honors with Sarah Apgar of Long Beach State and Laura Olvera of UC Irvine. It was the second time this season that Nickless earned the award. Lewis is also running well and will aspire to improve upon her impressive 8th-place performance at the last year's Conference Championships.
The men will need to compete against a Cal Poly team loaded with returning talent. Poly is the near-unanimous pick to win the meet, fielding runners who took three of the top five spots at last year's Conference Championships. Included in this group is All-American Phillip Reid, who was last year's Conference Champion and Big West Athlete of the Year. The Gauchos were runners-up to the Poly squad in last year's Conference meet, and this year will be looking to spoil Poly's bid for an unprecedented fifth straight crown.
Micah Tyhurst and Tim Aukshunas are the top returnees from last year's Gaucho squad, having placed 8th and 11th respectively at last year's Conference meet. This season has seen the emergence of Mike Powers as the Gauchos' top performer, and he will be counted on to keep the pressure on Poly and lead the Gauchos through a strong race.
The 2007 Big West Cross Country Championships will be held this Saturday at Fairbanks Cross Country Course in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The men's race will kick-off the event at 9:00 a.m. (PST), and the women's race will follow at approximately 9:55 a.m. The presentation of the team and individual awards is set to begin at 10:35 a.m.