It was a single-family wrecking crew last Saturday, as the Christman twins swept the top two spots at the Big West Championships. The #16 UCSB women’s cross country team won its second consecutive Big West title, triumphing over rival #23 Idaho. The men’s team took a close third behind league champion Cal Poly and second-place Utah State.
“It was the most satisfying Big West [championship] I’ve been able to coach. The women were competing at the highest level – two nationally ranked teams going at it,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “It’s been a difficult season for the men, but they ran so tough. I’m really proud of all of them.”
Four Gaucho women received All-Conference honors, led by junior Lauren Christman, the 2004 Big West Champion. Her sister, junior Lindsay Christman, finished a close second.
“It borders on the unbelievable,” Dolan said. “I knew Lauren could do it, but, wow, to have actually won was a realization of her talent.”
Defending champion senior Stephanie Rothstein finished a solid race at fourth, and fellow senior Cosette Smith took ninth. Both women finished with All-Conference honors.
The race with Idaho remained tight until the last sixth of a mile, when Lauren pulled into the lead and a pack of Gauchos including Lindsay Christman, Rothstein, Smith and sophomore Megan Lewis closed in not far behind.
Illness took the Gauchos’ #2 runner, senior Desiree Leek, out of the race, but the women seemed unfazed by the setback and managed to still overtake the Vandals. UCSB junior Seanna Martin took 25th, Leek’s replacement senior Rebecca Zamolo finished 36th, and junior Leslie Alexander placed 38th.
Despite a tough season, the men pulled together to finish in a respectable third place, with exciting finishes from sophomore front-runners Chris Ashley and Mike Chavez. Ashley took fourth and Chavez placed sixth, and both received All-Conference honors.
“I can’t remember the last time sophomore men went All-Conference,” Dolan said. “And depending on the point system, Ashley and Chavez are in the position to go to nationals as individual entries.”
Chavez ran a comfortable race from the start, and although Ashley started out too fast, he still managed to kick it in the last 200 yards to pass several runners, including Chavez, for the fourth-place finish.
Teammates junior Alex Cardiasmenos took 18th, sophomore Stewart Harwell 22nd, junior JD Krawczyk 25th, junior Ben Berkowitz 26th, senior Jeff Gardina 31st, and juniors Scott Brandos 41st and Ryan McGinnis 52nd.
“It was their best race of the year. There was that question of whether they can run well and other teams knew it,” Dolan said. “We just missed second and sealed third. We closed the door early in the race.”
The teams now look ahead to regionals in two weeks.