On Saturday, the UCSB men’s cross country team traveled to Palo Alto to compete in the Stanford invitational eight-kilometer race, where they finished in eighth place amongst 26 teams.

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Members of the Gaucho men’s cross country team run a course around the UCSB lagoon. The team ran its first official meet of the season on Saturday at Stanford. In the eight-kilometer run, the team placed eighth, finishing ahead of three other Big West teams.

“The goal for Stanford was to have a solid race as a team,” sophomore Juan Paredes said. “There [were] a lot of Big West Conference athletes so it was a great opportunity to see how we matched up with the other teams.”

Five Big West squads participated in the tournament, including rival Cal Poly, who tied the Gauchos for eighth place with 244 points.

UCSB placed ahead of both Long Beach State and UC Irvine, but finished just behind UC Davis, who finished seventh overall with 219 points.

After a slow start, Paredes and fellow sophomore Jeremy Acosta led all Gauchos with eight kilometer times of 24:27. The pair finished in 27th and 26th place overall, respectively. The winning time in the tournament was held by David McNeill of Northern Arizona, who finished the course in 23:18. However, Stanford placed first overall with 31 points.

With 219 points, UC Davis was the only squad to place ahead of the Gauchos in the Big West.

Coming off what Paredes described as a “workout” race – which serves the purpose of familiarizing runners with a track – at UC Riverside the week before, Santa Barbara entered Saturday looking to establish itself on both the conference and national levels.

Paredes has been a leader on the track for the Gauchos in the early stages of the season, placing third overall in the Lagoon Open in September to lead the Gauchos to a victory over rival Cal Poly, and he looked to maintain that role at Stanford.

“My plan was just to feel comfortable through three miles and start picking it up after that,” Paredes said. “It was a little disappointing because I was not feeling that great but I still managed to salvage a decent race.”

UCSB Head Coach Peter Dolan claims that the Gauchos, along with Long Beach, UCR and the Mustangs, have a chance to win the conference.

“The guys ran well at Stanford,” he said. “UC Davis is now favored to win conference but not by much. It is the most wide open race for the championship I can remember.”

The next test for the Gauchos will come in three weeks at Cal State Northridge. The women’s team, having been out of action since the Riverside Invitational, will compete this Friday at Notre Dame.