The UCSB men’s and women’s cross-country teams will compete in the 2010 Big West Championship tomorrow at UC Riverside. The women’s team will be defending their title from last year.

“No balls. No scoreboard. It’s about how fast you can run and how long you can go for,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “Whoever has the most guts and trained the hardest wins. It’s primal.”

Each team will send nine runners to represent UCSB in the conference championships. Only the top five runners are scored, and the combined lowest team time wins the race.

“Were favored to win but it will be a real close battle,” Coach Dolan said. “Long Beach has three junior college transfers that really bolstered their team. Cal Poly is very good too.”

All nine women participating were on last year’s Big West Championship team. As the season winds down, veteran leadership will be crucial.

“We’re a mature team. Everyone racing this weekend has experience,” senior Breanne Strenkowski said. “Nerves can overcome you in a big race. With experience, you can relax.”

The men’s team is sending a freshman, four sophomores, and three juniors. Led by sophomore Juan Paredes, the men’s squad looks to knock off Cal Poly, which has had a stranglehold on the Big West Conference with seven straight championship titles.

“The men’s championship is wide open this year,” Coach Dolan said. “Cal Poly has won the last six years, but they’re down right now, and we beat them earlier this year. Davis is the favorite, and Cal Poly is probably in the number two spot. We’re trying to finish in the top three, but we could win the whole thing.”

The women’s 6K race begins at 8:45 am and the men’s 8K race starts at 9:30 a.m. Admission to the 2010 Big West Cross Country Championships is free for Big West students.

The next race for the UCSB cross country teams is the NCAA West Regionals in Eugene, Oregon on Nov. 13. The winning team qualifies for the NCAA National Championships.