One year on the injured list was long enough for junior Scott Brandos.
After a year of training at less than full strength, Brandos managed to put together a stellar race Friday at the Titan Invitational, earning himself a spot in the Gaucho men’s cross-country top nine and a trip to the Big West conference championships next weekend.
“I got a late start training this summer,” Brandos said. “This was my third race this year, and I had two sub-par performances before this.”
Racing as a member of the “B” squad, Friday’s contest was to be his last chance to represent UCSB in competition this year, but Brandos finished second and will now get to race again with the “A” squad Halloween weekend.
“I can’t ignore how fast he raced [on Friday],” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “He’s going to help us in the conference meet next week.”
Two other athletes in Gaucho uniforms also had standout performances Friday. Senior Rebecca Zamolo and sophomore Laura Zung, collectively called the “Z-Factor,” took fifth and ninth place, respectively.
Both members of the Z-Factor followed relatively conservative race strategies to turn out impressive performances.
“Laura and I kind of have similar race plans in that we both come on slower and finish strong,” Zamolo said. “I was probably in 25th place after the first mile.”
While the Z-Factor and the other members of the lady Gaucho “B” squad will not represent UCSB next week at the conference championships, making the top nine this year on the #16 Santa Barbara women’s cross-country team is by no means an easy task.
“The top three runners on our women’s “B” squad would make the “A” squad for any other school in our conference except for Idaho,” Dolan said.
Overall, the men’s and women’s “B” squads turned out impressive performances as the top nine on each team rested for the conference meet next weekend. The men snagged second place behind Cal Coast Track Club, while the women took third.
“Overall, I was very happy with the effort, and anybody watching the race could easily see that the Gauchos were running 100 percent,” Dolan said.