Last Saturday, the UC Santa Barbara cross country team arrived in Terre Haute, Indiana to compete in the Pre-Nationals Invitational held at Indiana State. After a long day of running in the White Race, the men’s team finished the day in 13th place with
408 points while the women’s team finished in 32nd place with 849 points.

“We will be noticed nationally now, but we are still not in the top 30,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said.

The men welcomed two of their top runners, seniors Julian deRubira and Scott Smith, back into the lineup for this race. Previous to the event, Smith had been out due to injury and deRubira missed the last race because he was sick. Their returning impact was immediate. Smith led the men’s team on Saturday, finishing the 8K race in 49th place with a time of 24:32.9, and deRubira finished just behind him in 50th place with a time of 24:33.7.

“[Having] Julian and Scott both back put us back to where we belong,” Dolan said. The other Santa Barbara runners to score were redshirt freshman Juan Paredes, who finished 84th with a time of 24:58.3, senior Waleed Totari, who finished 103rd in 25:09.8, and redshirt freshman Bhavik Kanzaria, who finished 122nd. Coach Dolan was very proud of his team, especially Paredes and Kanzaria.

“Juan Paredes and Bhavik Kanzaria are both redshirt freshmen that brought honor to the team on a national stage,” Dolan said. ”They had tremendous races, especially considering their lack of experience at a race of this size and importance.”
The women had a tougher time than the men. Junior Breanne Strenkowski was the first and only Gaucho to finish the 6K race in the top 150 competitors, coming in 122nd with a time of 22:24.1.

“We are going to seriously just move past this race as soon as possible and just look forward to the Big West Championships in two Saturdays,” Dolan said.

Before the Big West Championships comes around on Oct. 31, the Gauchos will head to Fullerton this Friday for the Titan Invitational to wrap up their regular season.