Opening Week On Tap For Cross Country Clubs
2015 Big West Cross Country Weekly Release No. 1
The start line for the race to the Big West Cross Country Championships begins this week as the nine clubs compete in the first official action of the 2015 season.
Friday, UC Riverside heads to Sparks, Nev., for the Nature’s Bakery Nevada Twilight Classic. The competition will feature the homestanding Wolfpack, Highlanders, UCLA and Sierra Nevada College for the twilight run.
Saturday will see the bulk of action as eight clubs will take part in races, most of them hosted by conference squads. Cal State Fullerton hosts the Mark Covert Classic, UC Davis welcomes competitors for the Aggie Open, UC Irvine has the adidas/UCI Invitational, UC Santa Barbara hosts Cal Poly for their annual season-opening dual meet and Hawai’i stays on the island for the Big Wave Invitational.
CSUN and LongBeach State will travel for their weekend meets, but LBSU won’t have to travel as far as the Matadors. The 49ers will head to the adidas/UCI Invitational, while the Matadors head north for the San Francisco Invitational.
• CSUN actually kicked off its 2015 campaign last Monday as it competed in the Pepperdine Invitational. Elizabeth Nelson led the way for the Matador women, winning the individual title in the 4K at 14:29.64. Nelson, who finished a CSUN program-best third at the Big West Championships a year ago, led a contingent of Matador runners that picked up five finishes in the top 10. In all, the team picked up a victory in the team race, outpacing the homestanding Waves and Bakersfield.
The men’s team performed well in Malibu as Manny Vargas led a group of four runners that finished in the top 10. Vargas was third overall in the 5K with a time of 15:52.25 to lead the team to a second-place finish.
• Several Big West clubs are listed among the top teams in the region. On the men’s side, UC Santa Barbara leads the way with an ninth place ranking, while Cal Poly comes in at No. 11 and UC Davis at No. 15. The women’s regional rankings has UC Davis as the highest ranked Big West team at eighth, with Cal Poly at 11th.
• After thirty-plus years as a coach, including the last dozen with the Highlanders, UC Riverside Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Irv Ray, announced that he is retiring from intercollegiate coaching. Associate Head Coach Nate Browne, who has been with the program since 2003, will take over the program on an interim basis.
Ray was instrumental in UCR’s ascension to the top of the Big West as the year prior to Ray’s arrival on the Riverside campus, the women’s cross country team finished ninth in the conference and the men’s team finished eighth. Five years later, the women’s team hoisted the 2008 Big West Conference Championship trophy, and the men came within two points of a second place finish. That 2008 women’s title was capped by Ray being named the Big West Coach of the Year.