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Year In Review: The 2018 Big West Cross Country Season


Big West Cross Country 2018 Final Weekly Release


Another year of Big West cross country is in the books, one that saw Cal Poly return to the mountaintop and outstanding individual performances around the league.


• Cal Poly reigned supreme at the Big West Cross Country Championships, sweeping the team titles for the fifth time in program history. The 2018 Championships, hosted by Cal State Fullerton, marked a return to Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, a site which had not held the league meet since 1997.

The Mustang men won the title thanks to a dominant 32-point showing, putting up 37 more points than second place UC Santa Barbara. Leading the way for the club was Jake Ritter, the overall 8K champion with a time of 24:27.5. Ritter led a contingent that placed fifth, seventh, ninth and 10th for the championship. The title marks the third consecutive, sixth in the last eight seasons and conference record 16th overall. Cal Poly is the lone program to have won double-digit titles in Championship history.

The women’s race was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint as the Mustangs edged homestanding CSF 33-39. Cal Poly’s Miranda Daschian earned first place in a course record 21:23.1 over the 5K, with the Titans’ Samantha Huerta coming in second at 21:26.5. The Mustangs earned third and fourth in Katie Izzo (21:26.7) and Peyton Bilo (21:41.5), but Fullerton’s Trinity Ruelas (21:50.4), Lucina Vincent (21:59.4) and Sandra Flores (22:03.3) finished sixth, eighth and ninth to pull the Titans close. The Mustang title was then clinched by Sierra Brill (22.16.1) and Maddie MacDonald (22:18.2) in 12th and 13th.

Cal Poly’s title is the fifth in the last seven seasons for the program. Previous to this current run of success, the Mustangs had not won the title since the 2001 campaign. That was the second of back-to-back championships for the program.

• Cal Poly had Mark Conover win the Men’s Coach of the Year honor, while Priscilla Bayley came away with the Women’s Coach of the Year award. Their top runners came away with hardware as Jake Ritter claimed Men’s Athlete of the Year and Miranda Daschian the Women’s Athlete of the Year. It marks the sixth time in conference history that a school swept the Coach of the Year and Athlete of the Year awards in the same season (1985, ‘86, ‘87, 2013, ‘16). The Freshman of the Year awards were distributed among three schools as Tyler Spencer of Long Beach State claimed the Men’s Freshman of the Year and the Women’s Freshman of the Year was split among Cal State Fullerton’s Lucina Vincent and UC Davis’ Eva Goodisson.

• Cal Poly had juniors Miranda Daschian and Katie Izzo qualify for the NCAA Championships, thanks to top 25 performances at the NCAA West Regional meet in Sacramento. Daschian, the 2018 Big West Women’s Athlete of the Year, finished the Regional 6K in 18th at 20:10.3, while her teammate Izzo wasn’t too far behind in 22nd at 20:14.5. They were two of the four at-large selections out of the West Region.

At the national meet, Izzo crossed the finish line in 20:58.08, while Daschian completed the 6K course in 21:09.41.  Izzo’s time was good for 82nd overall, while Daschian ranked 112th among the 253 runners.

• Cal State Fullerton had an outstanding season on both sides. The women’s team won the UCSB Lagoon Open, the first time that the program topped UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly in the same meet. At the league championship meet, the Titans matched their best finish in program history (2nd) while junior Samantha Huerta tied for the best individual finish by a CSF runner, a mark which had stood since 1992.

The men’s third place finish was also the third straight year the club had finished in that position. That marked the first time since 1991-93 that the Titans finished in the top three in the league championship for three consecutive seasons.

• CSUN senior Michael Merchan had an outstanding final season in a Matador uniform. He became the first CSUN runner to win the league’s weekly Athlete of the Week award, doing so on two occasions. At the Big West Championships Merchan recorded the best finish by a male runner in CSUN history, finishing fourth in 24:41.4. That also marked the second straight top five finish for Merchan as he was third overall at the Highlander Invitational two weeks prior to the league meet.

• The UC Davis women’s team was a young squad but the club had a strong season led by new head coach Emma Petersen. The Aggies recorded a fifth place finish at the Mark Covert Classic, a third place showing at the Big West Championships and a team title at the Capital Cross Challenge. Freshman Eva Goodisson and junior Sarah Anderson led the way for the club throughout the season. Goodisson was the top Aggie finisher at the Big West Championships, finishing the 6K in seventh in 21:54.9. Anderson blazed the 5K in 18:04.1 at the Mark Covert Classic for an 11th place showing, while also finishing first for the Aggies at the NCAA West Regional 6K in 21:15.2, recording a 70th place finish.


The 2018-19 season marks the 50th anniversary for men’s sports in the Big West Conference, and the 35th for women’s.  All season long, the Big West Conference will celebrate the history of all conference sports.  Join us as we pay homage to the student-athletes, coaches, staffs, communities and fans who have helped pave the way.

• Vince O’Boyle ran one of the most successful programs in Big West history, the UC Irvine women’s cross country team. O’Boyle was at the helm of the program from 1982-2013, shepherding the program from independent to Big West power. He won 12 league titles, 12 Coach of the Year honors and coached 12 Athlete of the Year recipients. All of those achievements are the most by a coach in Big West history.

• UC Irvine established the first dynasty in women’s cross country history, winning the first five titles and nine of the first 10. The 1984 Anteater squad is also the only team in Big West women’s cross country Championship history to post a perfect score of 15. In all, UCI won 11 of the first 20 titles in league history.

Humble Beginnings: A Dynasty Born From Opportunity


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