There are no captains on UCSB’s track and field team, but Cosette Smith is as much of a leader as a captain could be. The Gaucho senior is in her fifth year on the team, third year as an All-Conference distance runner and is last year’s conference champion in the 10,000-meter run.

Smith will compete in the Big West Conference Championships today at Irvine in the 1,500 and 5,000. But more than just competing in these events and laying down some fast times, Smith is expected to help guide Santa Barbara to success.

“I rely on Cosette as a captain-like figure, even though we don’t officially have a captain,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “It’s her fifth year on the team and a lot of the girls respect her and look up to her.”

Champions understand what it takes to compete at the highest level, and Smith is certainly a champion. Last year, Smith won the 10,000 in the Big West Conference Championships and made it to the NCAA Regionals, but made a tactical error and did not advance past the regional level — a mistake that Dolan is confident she has learned from and will not repeat this time around.

In fact, Dolan seemed very confident in Smith’s abilities and her chances in this year’s conference championships and regionals. He expects that in her fifth and final year she has learned from her mistakes, learned from her coaches, learned from previous experiences and that she is determined to leave UCSB with a legacy behind her.

“She’s on a mission,” Dolan said. “Last year she knows that she made a tactical mistake in the 5,000; she just led the race too long. This year she’s going to be very determined – she’s going to do it.”

Smith is not the fastest runner in the conference; in fact, she isn’t even the fastest runner on the team -juniors Lauren and Lindsay Christman are ahead of her in the 1,500 and she is second behind Lauren in the 5,000. However, she provides the team with solid leadership and consistent performance.

“We’re looking to her for solid performances in two events,” Dolan said. “I expect All-Conference honors for both the 1,500 and the 5,000.”

Smith’s stability comes from the knowledge and experience in training and racing that she has gained from her tenure at UCSB. Her approach to training is one that Dolan praises as a prototypical method of how to train for track.

“What she’s great at is knowing how to work out without overdoing it,” Dolan said. “What that results in is stability and fast times in big events.”

Dolan’s theories on training will be put to the test and Smith will have plenty of opportunities to turn in fast times, as her marks of 4:27.30 in the 1,500 and 16:30.68 in the 5,000 are both fast enough to qualify her for the NCAA Regionals and will give her a shot at making a name for herself at the national level.