Development will be the focus for Santa Barbara this weekend in Brea.
The UCSB men’s and women’s cross country teams will send their “B” team runners to the Titan Invitational on Friday.
“We go to the meet for development,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “We have a solid women’s team and a good men’s side. This gives those runners past nine deep a chance to race.”
With the top nine from each team set for the Big West Conference meet, the invite will give other runners the opportunity to gain experience, show their skills and excel in cross country at a lower level. Many other teams in the conference send their “B” team members also. The Gauchos expect the most competition from Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.
Dolan is excited for senior Rebecca Zamolo, junior Laura Zung, and freshmen Christine Bjelland and Dana Underwood to run on Friday. For the men, juniors Loren Bland and Scott Brandos are expected to race well.
“I’d love to see the guys have a nice race to finish the season,” Dolan said.
The course is an easy run through Carbon Canyon Park and should not pose much difficulty. This week’s rain has disrupted the training schedule. The muddy grass has prevented the best workouts but asphalt has sufficed. The team does not want to risk injury at this point in the season. However, the Gauchos do not feel the weather will affect their weekend performance.
The remainder of the team has its sights set on the Big West Championships, to be held on Halloween weekend. The men have been recovering from their disappointing results at pre-nationals but look forward to the competition. They have a strong chance at third place and even a possibility of reaching second.
“The guys made a commitment mentally to refocus,” Dolan said. “We’ll make sure if the same thing happens, we’ll do better. We’ve moved on and are in control of our destiny.”