In each of their third meets of this young season, the Gaucho men’s and women’s cross country teams have continued to finish in the top five, with the women placing third at the University of Minnesota’s Roy Griak Invitational and the men taking fourth at the Stanford Invitational.

“We were stoked with our performance, to put together a conservative pack and beat all those teams,” junior Stephanie Rothstein said. “We knew we could do it, but we hadn’t done it yet.”

Junior Lauren Christman finished first for the Gauchos and 11th overall, with at time of 21:30 for the six-kilometer course. Junior Lindsay Christman took 28th overall, second for UCSB. Senior Desiree Leek and junior Stephanie Rothstein finished not far behind in 31st and 32nd, respectively.

“We had a strong top-five punch and good support through eight and nine,” Rothstein said. “It’s incredible to run and see all your teammates ahead, running as a pack of blue.”

Senior Cosette Smith took 53rd and sophomore Megan Lewis finished 87th. Sophomore Seanna Martin and senior Rebecca Zamolo rounded out the Gaucho lineup at 100th and 116th. The women finished behind Providence and Arizona State.

“It prepares us to run in a deep field. You can run well in any meet, but this meet showed we can pull together in a field of the nation’s top 300 girls, and what team effort will get you,” Rothstein said.

The men finished fourth overall, behind rival Cal Poly in first, and Stanford and Chico State tied for second.

“We learned a lot. We went into it with a race plan and stuck to it,” junior Alex Cardiasmenos said. “We were strong through the top six.”

As for the competition, Cal Poly, ranked nationally at 13th, went all out. Eight Cal Poly runners finished in the top 20. Second-place Stanford had only four runners in the top 20.

Sophomore Chris Ashley finished strong for the Gauchos in 18th, and fellow sophomore Mike Chavez took 27th. Cardiasmenos took 32nd and junior JD Krawczyk took 33rd, while UCSB’s top runner, senior Jeff Gardina, took 79th after returning from an injury.

“He’s coming back from an injury, but we’re not worried,” Cardiasmenos said. “He’ll be there when it counts.”

Both Gaucho teams will continue to prepare for their next and most competitive meet of the season, the NCAA pre-nationals in mid-October.