Big West Cross Country Hits The Ground Running
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• The 2013 Big West Cross Country season kicks off over the holiday weekend, as seven teams get a jump on the run to the championship.
Friday sees UC Davis and UC Riverside in action, with the Aggies competing at home in the Aggie Open. The Highlanders will head to Reno, Nev., for their annual season-opener at the Nevada Chase Race. The chase race format is a handicap style race with the lowest ranked athletes starting first followed by groups of higher ranked athletes at regular intervals. This creates an exciting last mile with athletes getting closer together rather than farther apart in the latter stages of the race.
Saturday will have the remaining five teams hit the ground in Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. The Mustangs, who are the defending champions on both sides, will be in Santa Barbara for the UCSB Lagoon Open. The Titans and 49ers will run at the Mark Covert Classic in Brea, a CSF-hosted meet that is named for the former alum and Division II champion. Meanwhile, the Matadors will head out of region into the Bay Area for the San Francisco Invitational.
• After five consecutive seasons, Big West Cross Country Championships will move from Riverside to San Luis Obispo. Fairbanks Cross Country Course will host the championship meet, the same site that hosted the event back in 2007. During that championship, the Cal Poly men won their fifth straight title thanks to a clean sweep of the first five positions. UC Santa Barbara took the women’s title, its fourth in five seasons.
• Following an impressive ninth-place finish at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, Cal Poly’s Laura Hollander was named to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-America team. The then-freshman garnered the elite status after running the NCAA Championship 6K course in a top-10 time of 19:45. Hollander was named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after winning the Big West Conference Championship in a course record time of 19:12.6 and finished second at the NCAA West Regional.
• A runner to keep an eye on this season is UC Santa Barbara sophomore Bryan Guijarro. Guijarro, the 2012 Big West Men’s Freshman of the Year, finished fifth at the Big West Championships and 35th at the NCAA West Regional a year ago.
• Cal Poly captured both the men’s and women’s Big West Cross Country Championships a year ago, which took place at the UC Riverside Ag/Ops Course for the fifth consecutive year. The men’s team collected its second straight title and 12th in the past 15 seasons while the women’s program nabbed its first conference crown since 2001.