Even with the Gauchos’ top runners getting some much-needed rest before the Big West Championships next weekend, nobody could keep up with the UCSB cross country teams during Friday’s Titan Invitational. The Gauchos defeated every collegiate team in the field with the #13 men’s team placing first and the #7 women’s team taking second behind the Cal Coast Track Club.
Five men placed in the top 13 overall to lead UCSB to a dominating victory over second-place Cal State San Marcos and the rest of the field. Junior Mike Powers led the way for the Gauchos with a second-place finish, followed by junior Gabe Lopez and senior Tetlo Emmen, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively. A pair of freshmen rounded out the scoring for the Gauchos with Colton Tully-Doyle finishing 10th and Julian DeRubira placing 13th.
“We’ve been having pretty good success. The guys went down and won the team championship, and even though it’s not the best competition, it’s still nice to win.” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said.
Juan Mejia of Cal State San Marcos edged Powers to win the men’s race, but it was not enough, as the Gauchos’ depth led them to the win. The Gauchos were so dominant that even the four runners who failed to score points for UCSB placed within the top 34 runners. Sophomores Erik Aardall and Ben Fletcher and freshmen Jayson Hayes and Dillon Brook all ran well, and showed that they will be a big part of the program’s future.
“There’s always the hope of continuity where you can mix in the younger guys with the older guys,” Dolan said. “It’s just another step in their progress. We’ve got returning guys, and now, we have younger guys stepping up, so that’s why we spend the time and the energy to go down to a meet like this.”
The UCSB women’s team placed five runners in the top 16, but could not overcome the strong Cal Coast Track Club, a Southern California club team which consists of over 800 adult and masters runners. Their experience paid off, as CCTC runners finished first, second, and third.
Freshman Lisette Arellano paced the Gauchos with a sixth-place finish just ahead of sophomore teammate Christine Bjelland who placed 10th. Three freshmen finished up the scoring for UCSB as Alyssa Brown, Stephanie Garcia and Nicole Anderson placed 12th, 14th and 16th, respectively.
“I told them all that we blurred the line between our A team and our B team,” Dolan said. “Right now, it doesn’t really matter who is running. We’re showing up to competitions and doing really well.”
Despite the strong results, neither UCSB team is expected to gain much ground in this week’s polls, as the majority of the top teams in the country were also resting in preparation for next week’s league championship meets.
The top nine runners for each team will be back in action on Oct. 28 for the Big West Championships held at Cal Poly. With both teams achieving their highest rankings since 2001, the Gauchos are favored to come away from Cal Poly with multiple league championships.