After coming on strong at the end of the 2001 season, the UCSB men’s and women’s cross country teams bolted into this year with high expectations. However, reality set in for the Gauchos.
The men’s team struggled to a 23rd-place showing at the NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind., while the women ground out a 32nd-place finish at the same event. Senior J.T. Service enjoyed his best race of the year, finishing the eight-kilometer race in 62nd place with a time of 25:04 to lead Santa Barbara. Service, however, felt unimpressed with his efforts.
“I had a mediocre race that shined because of all the problems that we had as a team on Saturday,” Service said. “It wasn’t the best I could race. As a team, we didn’t get the points we were looking for. We also had some bad luck. I still believe that we have a lot of talent on this team, and that we can still come together. The goal for all of us, myself included, is to have a more consistent outing next time.”
Sophomore Jeff Gardina finished second for the Gauchos and 95th overall, with a time of 25:24. Junior Ramiro Guillen finished in 108th place with a time of 25:30. Freshman Art Avitia and sophomore Scott Brandos wrapped up the race for UCSB by finishing 143rd and 145th, respectively.
An unfortunate problem with senior and team leader Brandon von Guenthner’s side hampered the Gauchos.
“Brandon had some problems with his side and fell back,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “It was tough for us because all of our guys look to Brandon for leadership, and it wasn’t there on Saturday. We just want to stay positive and reassess where we are as a group.”
Senior Katie Appenrodt led the women’s squad with a time of 21:40 in the six-kilometer race, a time good enough for 55th place. Sophomore Desiree Leek finished second for the Gauchos in 144th place overall with a time of 22:27. Senior Lisa Dunn ran well, finishing in 157th place with a time of 22:46. The Christman sisters, freshmen Lauren and Lindsay, finished 198th and 200th, respectively. Overall, the Gauchos were disappointed.
“We just weren’t prepared on Saturday to run with the best teams in the country,” Dolan said. “I thought Lisa Dunn was fearless; she really went after it. But we were facing the best teams in the country, and we had an off race. We now need to be focused on doing the best we can at the Conference Championship.”
The Big West Conference Championship is Saturday, Nov. 2 at UC Riverside.