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Cross Country

A Look Back At Cross Country 2015

12/25/2015

Cal Poly claimed their third #BigWest title in four years in 2015, led by Freshman of the Year Peyton Bilo

A bit of the new and a bit of the...kind of new? The 2015 cross country season had some new faces, repeat winners and a few breakthrough performances that compiled another brilliant season across the trails.

BIG WEST AT A GLANCE

So Who Won The Titles?
Central Coast squads took home the hardware at the Big West Championships as the Cal Poly women and UC Santa Barbara men claimed the 2015 cross country titles. The Mustangs claimed the title for the third time in four years, posting 39 points on their way to the title. The UCSB men won the title for the second straight year, the first time since 1992-94 that a club other than Cal Poly has won consecutive titles. The Gauchos had to battle for the crown as they posted 31 points, five points more than Mustangs.

Introducing Peyton
Cal Poly's Peyton Bilo led the Mustang women's team to a truly memorable season. After putting up the top finish in two of the four races she competed in during the regular season, Bilo saved her best for the postseason. She led the Mustangs to the team title at the Big West Championships, finishing second individually (20:36.87) in the 6K event. She carried that momentum to the NCAA West Regional race, finishing in 12th in 21:00.5. That landed her a spot in the NCAA Championships where she finished 172nd in 21:20.9. Bilo was the recipient of the Big West Freshman of the Year and was named to the USTFCCCA All-West Region team for her efforts.

Gaucho Two-Step
UC Santa Barbara senior duo Bryan Guijarro and Anthony Ortolan gave the club a 1-2 punch that was difficult to beat. The duo finished 1-2 at the Big West Championships, leading UCSB to its second straight league title. The twosome was so good it earned two of the at-large bids out of the West Region to the NCAA Championships. Ortolan was the first finisher of the duo, crossing the line in 80th at 30:47.6, while his teammate was 138th in 31:18.1. The awards were plentiful for both athletes as Guiijaro earned Big West Athlete of the Year accolades for the second consecutive year, while both men earned USTFCCCA All-West Region honors.

Plenty of Faith
UC Riverside's Faith Makau put her own mark on the 2015 campaign. During the regular season, the sophomore gained notice with a 16th place finish at the prestigious Stanford Invitational and an individual title at the Highlander Invitational. Once the postseason came, Makau was even better, winning the individual 6K title at the Big West Championships in 20:27.50, 20 seconds better than her freshman campaign. Makau won the Big West Women's Athlete of the Year for her efforts, the second straight year a Highlander has won the award.

Isaiah Makes It
UC Irvine sophomore Isaiah Thompson crashed the top 10 party at the Big West Championships, finishing fifth in the men's 8K in 24:24.22. He recorded the highest finish in the men's 8K for a UCI runner since Steven Melena finished fourth in 2012.

A Legendary Career
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.



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. - See more at: story.asp?STORY_ID=18638#sthash.PuhOZNGH.dpuf
20:27.50. That time was 20 seconds