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Cross Country

Cal Poly Overlooked For NCAA Championships;
Jackson To Represent Mustangs Individually
Cal Poly was denied an at-large bid to the 2002 NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country Championship despite finishing an impressive third among 23 teams at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday, November 16.

The top two teams from each of the nine NCAA Regional meets and 13 at-large teams were selected to compete in the Nov. 25 national meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

Cal Poly senior David Jackson will be the only Big West cross country athlete, men or women, who will represent the conference at the NCAA Championships. Jackson was selected based on his performance in the West Regional, in which he had to finish among the top four individual runners on teams that did not automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. Jackson's time of 30:53 on the 10,000 meter course put him in 14th place out of a field of 160 runners. Cal Poly finished third as a team behind Stanford and Oregon, two schools that accounted for 10 of the race's top 12 runners.

The Mustangs were passed over by the selection committee despite ranking No. 26 in the nation in the Nov. 18 edition of the Mondo Men's Division I Cross Country national poll. Cal Poly was one of only two schools in the top 30 Ė No. 23 Dartmouth was the other Ė to not receive an at-large bid. In fact, three teams outside of the top 30 Ė Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Texas Ė were issued invitations to the NCAA Championship.

This is the second straight year that Jackson has qualified for the NCAA Championship as an at-large pick. He finished 186th at last year's championships.

Big West Teams To Compete In NCAA Regionals
Big West teams are preparing to participate in NCAA Regional action this week and battle for a berth to the NCAA Championships on Saturday, November 25 in Terre Haute, Ind. Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Idaho and Pacific are competing in the NCAA West Regional at the Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif. Meanwhile, Utah State is running in the NCAA Mountain Regional, which is hosted by the University of New Mexico on the UNM North Golf Course. The top two menís and womenís teams from each regional automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. In addition, the top four menís and womenís individuals whose teams do not qualify for the NCAA Championships will also earn invitations to the national meet. Additional at-large and team participants will be selected on Monday, November 18.

Utah State is fresh off winning its fourth Big West menís cross country championship and first since 1994. The Aggies join a strong Mountain Regional field that includes six teams ranked in the top 15 nationally. Utah State is positioned seventh in the Mountain Region and 26th nationally. Utah State finished in a tie for 17th at last yearís NCAA Mountain Regional competition. The team is led by senior Mitch Zundel, junior Mike Nielsen and senior Steve Prescott, who finished first, second and fifth at the Big West championship, respectively.

In the West Regional, which features 28 menís programs, Cal Poly has the talent to score low in a field with three top 30 teams. The Mustangs themselves have been ranked in the top 30 this season and currently rest fifth in the West Region poll. Cal Poly had four runners finish in the top 10 at the Big West championship, led by a third place showing from junior Sean Ricketts. UC Santa Barbara also looks to figure in the mix as the Gauchos have been ranked regionally for most of the season.

In the West Regional, which includes 34 womenís teams, Idaho hopes to build off the momentum of capturing its first Big West championship nearly two weeks ago. The Vandals were propelled to the title behind the stellar running of individual champion Letiwe Marakurwa. Idaho is ranked sixth regionally and joins a field which boasts four schools in the nationís top 30. Meanwhile, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine are ranked seventh and eighth in the regional poll, respectively. The Gauchos have senior Katie Appenrodt, a second place finisher at the Big West Championships, to lead the way. Senior Amanda Armstrong, a two-time Big West Athlete of the Week, is the catalyst for a strong Anteater squad.

Utah State is included in an 18-team field for the Mountain Regional and hopes to improve upon its fourth place standing at the Big West Championships. This regional features three schools ranked in the top 10 and four schools in the top 30. The Aggies are guided by a pair of juniors in Audrey Golightly and Kristen Coombs, who finished sixth and 10th at the conference meet, respectively.