Joe Gatel’s individual win Saturday sparked Cal Poly’s men’s cross country team to its seventh straight Big West Conference cross country championships at the UC Riverside Farm Course.
The Mustangs won their 10th overall Big West crown as they literally ran away from runner-up UC Santa Barbara 28-67. UC Davis was third with 81 points.
Kyleigh Tyerman’s runner-up finish led the Cal Poly women to third in a tightly-contested team race that saw UC Santa Barbara win with 50 points. UC Davis was second with 61 points, Cal Poly third with 74 and Long Beach State a distant fourth with 100 points.
“You never go into a race like this thinking it’s a given,” Cal Poly head coach Mark Conover said of the men’s team race. “To win in such a convincing fashion is a testimony to how badly they wanted to go out and achieve excellence again this year.
“People on the team don’t want to be the first ones to lose it for Cal Poly and this just shows how business-like they are in their approach and they can perform well when it matters most. And today was no exception.”
Gatel gave the Mustangs the men’s individual winner for the fourth straight year as he followed in the footsteps of Daniel Gonia (2008 champ) and Phillip Reid (the winner in 2006-07).
Gatel not only won, but set a course record of 23 minutes, 36.8 seconds over the 8K course. UC Santa Barbara’s Julian deRubira was second in 23:40.3, and Cal Poly’s Evan Anderson was third in 23:41.6.
Conover said that the men’s race developed much like it did a year ago as UC Riverside’s Chad Hall ran out to a big early lead only to be reeled in at the end.
“The men’s race went out faster than it’s ever went out at the conference championships,” Conover said. “They went through the first mile in 4:30 and that caught everybody off guard.”
The Mustangs placed all five of their scorers in the top 10. Anderson turned in the fourth top-four finish of his Big West career and was followed by Carl Dargitz (sixth, 24:03.9), Andy Wright (eighth, 24:13.9) and Leif Anderson (10th, 24:24.6).
In the women’s race, the Mustangs had their highest team finish since 2001, when they won the second of their back-to-back conference crowns.
“The women ran a fantastic race,” Conover said. “They competed for every possible effort and place they could get and that was evident in the aggressive way they raced.”
UC Davis’ Sarah Sumpter won the women’s individual race in 20:34.0 over the 6K course and Tyerman, a freshman, was 1.4 seconds back despite suffering from nose bleeds during the race.
“(Tyerman) came to life with about 500 meters to go and re-passed Lilyana Morejon (of Cal State Northridge, third in 20:36.3) and almost caught Sarah Sumpter.”
The Mustangs also had strong performances from Vanessa Hancock (12th in 21:14.2), Brienna Morris (17th in 21:20.7), Lauren Matthews (20th in 21:29.2) and Rebecca Paddack (23rd in 21:40.4) to round out their scoring.
Both Cal Poly teams advanced to the Nov. 14 NCAA West Regional in Springfield, Ore., where the top two teams in each race will automatically qualify for the Nov. 23 NCAA Championships. Along with the top two teams from each of the nine regions advancing to the NCAA meet, 13 at-large teams will also be selected for the NCAA Championships.
UC Davis 2, Cal Poly 0
The Mustangs (8-9-1, 6-3 Big West) failed to record a shot until senior forward Daniel Cumming attempted a header in the 38th minute and were held to just one shot on goal in the match.
UC Davis (6-12-1, 3-5-1) got two goals on eight shots from Chris Leer, including the game winner midway through the first half.
Cal Poly will contest its final regular season contest Wednesday, hosting UC Santa Barbara (12-3-1, 6-1) in a matchup that should have major conference tournament implications.
Cal State Fullerton 3, Cal Poly 0
The Mustangs dropped to last place in the Big West Conference after a 25-22, 25-20, 31-29 loss to the Titans in Mott Gym.
Cal Poly (6-19, 2-10 Big West) was led by two middle blockers, freshman Jennifer Keddy and junior Dominique Olowolafe, who each had 10 kills. Keddy’s kills came on a match-high .714 hitting percentage while Olowalfe hit .391.
Cal State Fullerton(13-10, 3-7) got a match-high 21 kills from Erin Saddler.