Following Saturday’s Pre-National Meet, it might be time for the NCAA voters to start paying more attention to the UCSB cross country teams.
After receiving two votes in last week’s national rankings, the Gaucho men can expect to move into the national top-30, following their historic performance last weekend. The meet featured 23 of the top 30 teams in the country, and was divided into two separate heats to accommodate the large field. UCSB finished in fourth place in the Blue heat, and ended up with the seventh-best time overall.
“I don’t know why we weren’t ranked after the Stanford race, but now we should be a top-15 team,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said.
Seventh-ranked Colorado won the Blue heat followed by #27 Florida State, #13 North Carolina State, and the unranked Gauchos. UCSB finished ahead of eight ranked teams, including #7 Arizona, #10 Oklahoma State and #15 Georgetown. This was the Gauchos’ highest finish since 2001, when they finished fourth and eventually wound up ranked #11 in the country.
UCSB started the race conservatively, but ended strong with five Gauchos finishing within 45 seconds of each other. Senior Mike Chavez led the way with a 15th place finish, followed by juniors J.D. Krawczyk and Micah Tyhurst who placed 32nd and 36th, respectively. Senior Chris Ashley and junior Tim Aukshunas made up considerable ground in the final mile, and placed 67th and 79th, respectively, to round out the Gaucho scoring.
“I’m always preaching balance because UCSB is a very balanced school, and we had that balance as a team,” Dolan said.
In their first true test since moving up to #8 in the rankings, the UCSB women’s team proved that they are, in fact, one of the top teams in the country. Fueled by strong performances from senior twins Lauren and Lindsay Christman, the Gauchos matched their male teammates by finishing fourth in the White heat. Fifth-ranked North Carolina State won the heat, followed by #3 Michigan and #9 Wisconsin, who tied for second.
“We had a plan to go out conservatively and that’s what we did,” Dolan said. “We were able to pass a lot of teams at the end and finish in fourth.
Lauren Christman led the way for UCSB with her ninth-place finish, followed by sister Lindsay in 16th place and senior Stephanie Rothstein in 20th. Senior Hadas Moser and sophomore Danielle Domenichelli finished 75th and 76th, respectively to round out the scoring for the women.
The Gauchos validated their high national ranking by defeating nine ranked teams, including #2 Colorado. This was the highest finish ever for the Gaucho women at Pre-Nationals, beating their previous record of eighth place in 2004.
The Gaucho B teams will run in Saturday’s Titan Invitational at Fullerton, while the top nine runners on both teams will be back in action on Oct. 28 at the Big West Cross Country Championship in Cal Poly. The women will be heavily favored to win their third Big West title in four years, while the men will have a great chance of winning their first conference title since 2001.