RIVERSIDE, Calif. - It was a historic day on Saturday at the UC Riverside Ags/OPs Course as Cal State Fullerton women's cross country won the first Big West Championship in program history. For the men's squad, they took second place, tied for the best finish in program history and the last time CSF took second place was in 1993.
"This is a huge day for us a program and that doesn't come without a great support team," head coach John Elders said. "Our whole staff, Alex Tebbe has had a huge impact on our program and the whole track and field staff was here to support today. We couldn't be what we are without them. And then my leadership team in Meredith Basil, athletic director Jim Donovan and President Fram Virjee, I couldn't ask for a better group of leaders to work with. I'm very thaknful to have that and not everybody is able to work with the people that I work with and today is just a special day."
Fullerton won on the women's side with 44 points as UC Davis had 50 in second place and Cal Poly had 51 in third. For the men, Cal Poly won with 44 points, CSF had 53 in second and UC Santa Barbara took third with 67 points.
Samantha Huerta earned a runner-up finish for the second straight year, tied for the best individual finish in a conference championship. She clocked a 6K time of 20:24.97. Trinity Ruelas was third with a time of 20:39.17 while Sarah Hollis was 10th at 21:09.4. Those three student-athletes all earned All-Big West accolades for finishing in the top 10. Sandra Flores' time of 21:11.6 was good for 12th place and Alyssa Block rounded outh the scoring in 17th place with a time of 21:23.2.
"UC Davis had a big presence in the lead pack for the first two miles so they had a comfortable lead at that point but our ladies showed a lot of grit and determination the last 2K," Elders said. "Samantha and Trinity broke away with the leader to lock up second and third. But the rest of the ladies all moved up as well towards the end and showed how much this meant to them. They ran smart and determined and finished the job. They didn't think they won but once I told them we won they just went crazy."
On the men's side, Erik Gonzalez led the way with an 8K time of 24:39.4 in fourth. Jacob Smith's time of 24:52.0 was good for sixth place and Alexis Garcia took 10th place at 25:00.4. Those three student-athletes earned all-conference honors as well. Anthony Alfaro took 14th place with a time of 25:12.9 and Jorge Sanchez rounded out the scoring with a time of 25:28.2 in 19th place.
"The men's race was different in that it was more stretched out, our guys were third at the two-mile break," Elders said. "But the second half of the race we just kicked it into another gear, Alexis Garcia moved up 21 spots in the last half of the race. They almost pulled the comeback off, we were running Cal Poly down but didn't have enough time. I'm very proud of them and how they competed so we have nothing to hang our heads up."
Next up, the Titans will compete at the NCAA West Regionals on Nov. 15 in Colfax, Wash.
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