Cross country starts 2017 season at home

Aug. 29, 2017

THIS WEEK...
UC Davis hosts 2017 Aggie Open
Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017
Putah Creek Reserve Course
Davis, Calif.
Men's 6K: 9:00 a.m.
Women's 4K: 9:35 a.m.
Meet Information Get Acrobat Reader

DAVIS, Calif.-- The UC Davis veterans and newcomers of the men's and women's cross country squads toe the line for their first 2017 season race this Saturday (Sept. 2) at the Putah Creek Reserve Course in Davis, Calif. This field will be shared with Causeway rival Sacramento State in this annual Aggie Open dual. 

The men's 6K race opens the meet at 9:00 a.m., with the women's 4K race following 35 minutes later. Between the Aggies and the Hornets, UC Davis holds a nine-year season winning streak on the women's side (since 2008), and a four-year winning streak on the men's side (since 2013), over Sacramento State in this season opener. 

The Aggies return for the 2017 season with a total of 14 runners from last season's squads (seven for the men, seven for the women), with a new interim distance coach Marshall Ackley. Ackley, who coaches the jumpers, multis, and pole vaulters, takes over for Devin Elizondo, who accepted his new position as the head coach for the men's and women's cross country teams at his alma mater, UCLA. 

"It was definitely a shock for most of them that Devin got an opportunity to go to UCLA, [but] they know that the number one thing right now is banding together and becoming a family unit, and getting the most out of cross country." Ackley said. "Regardless of who's in the seat, their objective is to still win conference, it's still to go to regionals and nationals, so their goals haven't changed. If anything, it's been something that's made them band closer together to tackle those type of problems head on."

The men's squad is led by a four person senior class, two of which finished their season at the NCAA West Regionals. Oliver Abundez-Dominguez and Jon Horvath got the Aggies to a 19th place finish as a team at the NCAA West Regionals. They will be joined by junior Jordy Ceja, who finished 48th at that meet with his new 10K PR of 30:39.0, and sophomore Zachary Katzman who finished in the top-half field with a time of 32:05.3. The other two seniors this year are Austin Goins, who was the third Aggie across the line at the Big West Conference Championships, and Anthony Sanchez, who finished with a 2016 season-best 8K time (26:34.9) at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational in Sunnyvale, Calif. 

Ceja, a junior from Panorama City, Calif., returns to defend his title at the Aggie Open, winning first place with a time of 18:17 in 2016. The animal biology major was the first Aggie across the line for all six of his meets last year, including a 23rd place finish at the Big West Championships to help the men's team to a sixth place finish.

The rest of the men's squad includes only two returners: sophomore Xolan Brown, who raced in three meets, including the Big West Championships last season, and Katzman. The Aggies welcome six newcomers: freshman Ryman Crone, sophomore Tom Robey, junior transfers James De Mello (College of the Canyons) and Kiernan Elam (Cuyamaca College), and graduate student transfer Thomas Madden (University of Virginia). Jesus Salas Jr., who sat out last season after transferring from conference rival Cal Poly, also joins the team. 

On the women's side, gone are veterans Olivia Goins and Nicole Lane, who helped the Aggies to a second place finish at the Big West Championships a year ago, but returning is a sizable sophomore class, who were thrown into the fire as freshmen in 2016. 

Sophomore Haley Adel and Sarah Anderson both finished their 2016 season with career bests at the NCAA West Regionals in the 6K, and are joined by classmate Julia Lemak, who completed her last race of the year at the Big West Championships (11th), finishing three-tenths after Hannah Kirkegaardwho finished with a time of 21:55.9 at the NCAA West Regionals. The sophomore class also has Lauren Powers and Mandy Wainfan, who both raced at last year's Aggie Open.

The rest of the running squad includes junior Megan MacGregor, who finished 18th at the Big West Championships, and a bevy of newcomers that include: freshmen Alexis Ballman, Morgan Bowman, Sofia Ries, Jordan Stefani, and Lara Vetter, and junior transfer Christine Bayliss (Diablo Valley College).

Following this weekend's meet, the Aggies are on the road for the majority of the year, returning home only to compete across the causeway at the Capitol Cross Challenge on Sept. 30 and host the Doc Adams Open on Nov. 4. In between, stops include the UC Riverside Invitational (Sept. 16 -- which will also serve as a "sneak peek" at the course for this year's Big West Conference Championships on Oct. 28 -- the Penn State National Open (Oct. 13), and the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational (Oct. 14).

The NCAA West Regionals will be held in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 10, with the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, held on Nov. 18.

-- #GoAgs --