Cal Poly

Grouping will be key for Cal Poly’s cross country title chances

Going into Saturday’s Big West Conference Championship meet at UC Riverside, both the Cal Poly men’s and women’s cross country teams are racing like champions.

What that means in a word: Grouping.

In taking third in the 8K race behind Oklahoma State and Stanford, two teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation, at the Bronco Invitational on Oct. 18, the Cal Poly men were led by junior Luis Morales in 24 minutes. Clayton Hutchins was just three seconds back, with Eric Hayen one second behind Hutchins and Nick Woolf two more seconds back.

The women’s team showed similar strength. They are without junior standout Laura Hollander, who is redshirting this season, but have a deep group of similarly talented runners.

Meagan Breadmore led the team in the Bronco Invitational 6K in 20:55, but Sydney Szabo was only two seconds behind, and Ashley Windsor and Ashley Bergstrom were separated by a single second at 21:01 and 21:02.

“It’s great that we get to run nine student-athletes at the conference meet,” head coach Mark Conover said. “The top five score, your sixth and seventh runners can displace another school’s top five runners, and with our depth, I think that can come in very handy, too. So, it’s an exciting group to work with.”

The men will be going for their 14th conference championships and 10th in the past 11 seasons, and the women seek their third straight and fifth overall.