Despite having self-proclaimed disappointing seasons, the UCSB men’s and women’s cross country teams finished their schedule feeling good about what they had accomplished at the end of the 2002 season.
The men’s team finished seventh at the NCAA West Region Championships at Stanford on Saturday, while the women finished eighth. Senior J.T. Service shined the brightest of all the Gauchos, finishing the 10k race in 18th place overall with a time of 31:14. In her final race, senior Katie Appenrodt led the women, finishing in 39th place with a time of 22:41. Although they may not have lived up to the lofty expectations set at the beginning of the year, many Gauchos expressed the pride they felt toward their teammates and themselves.
“We know we can run better,” senior Lisa Dunn said. “But this was a really fun year. This was the first year where the girls would run in a pack. It felt great running with the Gaucho pack rather than just feeling like you are by yourself. It’s a great atmosphere around here, and we’re a young team that’s only going to get better. So, yes, we’re disappointed, but we did the best we ever had at regionals, and we had an exciting race.”
UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan echoed these sentiments.
“The girls were disappointing, but we’re very young,” Dolan said. “We have a young team that finished in eighth, but with as good a team as we had, we should have done better on the women’s side. We didn’t come out with confidence, then we tried to rebound, but it was too late. We tried hard, but it just wasn’t good enough. We promise that next year’s regionals will be better.”
When the subject turned to the men’s team, Dolan was a bit more positive.
“The men ran tough as hell,” Dolan said. “I’m very proud of them. We didn’t get what we thought we would out of our returnees because of injuries and other problems, but on Saturday we earned respect. We held our own without having the dream team we thought we would. It took us until the last meet to get an identity. J.T. of course was very impressive. He had a lot of support, and it was exciting for the fans to see him do what he had to do.”
Service became a bit emotional when asked to sum up his year and his career.
“That last race, I just wanted to take it with me,” Service said. “I’ve improved my level of running so much. I never would have believed I could run this fast. I have to give a lot of credit to the coaching I received and the encouragement of my teammates.”
At press time, Service was unsure if he had received a bid to move on to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., next week. But whether he gets a bid or not, Service and his teammates enjoyed an exciting year, one that will hopefully lead to better things for the Gauchos in years to come.