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Cross Country

UC Riverside Set to Host Big West Cross Country Championships


Big West Cross Country Release No. 10

The time has come to converge on the Ag/Ops Course in Riverside, Calif., for the 2014 edition of the Big West Cross Country Championships.

Eight men’s teams and nine women’s team’s will take part in the competition, which is returning to the Inland Empire after a one-year hiatus. UCR is experienced as host as the school has hosted the Big West Championships seven times over the last 10 years. The defending champion on both sides is Cal Poly, who has swept the men’s and women’s titles in each of the last two seasons.

The men’s race is an 8K scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. The defending champion Mustangs are led by Clayton Hutchins, a sophomore who won the WCC Preview meet and a ninth-place showing at Stanford. Cal Poly has a deep group, but rival UC Santa Barbara has been just as impressive. The Gauchos have three runners (Bryan Guijarro, Anthony Ortolan and Shyan Vaziri) in the top 5 8K performances in the Big West. Cal Poly (13) and UC Santa Barbara (9) are also the two men’s clubs appearing in the regional rankings.

Homestanding UCR is led by Seth Totten, who has put in a number of impressive performances this season. The senior has set his career-best time in the 8K (23:46) on two occasions this season and set an Ag/Ops course record in the 6K with a time of 17:17.7. UC Davis’ Brandon Pugh, who owns the seventh-best 8K time in the league (24:04.0), leads the Aggie contingent, while UC Irvine’s Alex Tebbe looks to grab a top-10 showing after recording the sixth-best 8K time (24:02.0) in the conference this season.

Expect a hotly contested affair in the women’s 6K race, an event scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. Defending champion Cal Poly is led by Megan Breadmore, who recorded a fourth place finish at the WCC Preview and 17th at the Bronco Invitational. Breadmore leads an experienced group that also includes Mary Jo Wright, a sophomore who finished 14th at the Championship a year ago.

The Mustangs will be challenged by a deep group of competitors led by UC Riverside. The homestanding club boasts arguably the league’s top runner in Raquel Hefflin. She owns the league’s top 5K time (16:46.6) and the second-best 6K mark (20:33.40). Hefflin, along with Faith Makau, make the hosts a threat to take home the title for the first time.

A well established contender is UC Davis, a squad that has finished lower than third only twice in its Big West tenure. The Aggies are led by veterans Christine Hoffman, Erika Barr and Raquel Lambdin. Hoffman recently finished 17th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet with a time of 21:11.0.

UC Santa Barbara has the highest returning finisher from the 2013 race in Daniella Moreno, who has put together another quality season. Moreno has the fourth-best 5K time (21:56.2) in the Big West and owns the top 6K time (20:25.5). Teammate Maxine Goyette also has a top 5 6K time as she is third at 21:00.5).

Keep an eye on Elizabeth Nelson from CSUN in the individual race. The junior college transfer owns the second-best 5K time (17:01.4) in the Big West and the fourth-best 6K time (21:03.3).