Aggies Bound for Big West Championships

Junior Trevor Halstead looks to improve on his sixth-place finish at the Big West Championships last season.

Nov. 1, 2013

DAVIS, Calif. -

Big West Cross Country Championships Website
Men's "Cross Country Chonicles" Entry
Women's "Distance Diaries" Entry

The championship season has arrived for the UC Davis men's and women's cross country teams as the Aggies head south for San Luis Obispo and the 2013 Big West Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday (Nov. 2) at the Fairbanks Cross Country Course.

It will be the first time since 2007 that the conference championships will be held on this course after spending the last five years in Riverside, Calif. The men's 8K race will begin at 9:45 a.m., while the starter's gun for the women's 6K will go off at 10:40 a.m.

"Conference championship weekend is the first of two guaranteed post-season races for the men and women and, while a conference setting differs greatly from the NCAA Regional two weeks from now, the notion of putting ourselves out there and running with a clear purpose applies to both meets," Head Coach Drew Wartenburg said.

"This is the first year that any of our athletes have had the opportunity to compete on the course in San Luis Obispo, and we have prepared to compete irrespective what the course or has to throw at us.

"In a championship meet in this conference, the little battles within the top 20-25 places are often the determining factors in the final tally, and so both teams will adopt an approach that relies on good focus and a willingness to engage assertively."

The Aggies enter the conference championships with the men's squad ranked No. 9 in the West Region and the women standing 10th in the USTFCCCA polls as of Oct. 21 - one of three Big West schools ranked in the region's top 15 along with Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara's men's and women's squads.

"The mood among the team is definitely one of excitement about the possibilities that await on Saturday, and we will aim to channel and harness that emotion until the gun fires on Saturday morning," Wartenburg said. "The shared outlook at this point is that rankings and times go out the window while each athlete commits to race for place in a true 'every point counts' scenario."

Cal Poly's men's squad is the defending conference champion, looking to claim its third-consecutive and 13th title overall, while the Mustang women are also defending champions - the fourth different school to claim the trophy in the last five seasons - defeating UC Davis by just three points in the standings as each school placed three runners in the top 10.

On the men's side, UC Davis is anchored by sophomore Brandon Pugh, who has posted the fourth-fastest 8K time in the Big West this season with a 23:46 at the NCAA Inter-Regional Jamboree on Oct. 4. Junior Trevor Halsted, who finished sixth overall at last season's championship meet, is also among the top-10, posting the ninth-fastest time in the league with a 24:09 at the same meet. The men finished fourth overall at the Big West Championships in 2012, just 11 points back of third-place UC Irvine.

The Aggie women will be paced by senior Sarah Sumpter, who ran a 16:36 5K on Oct. 4 at the NCAA Inter-Regional Jamboree to tie Cal Poly's Laura Hollander for the fastest in the Big West this season. Sumpter also owns the second-fastest 6K time in the conference in 2013, running a 20:27 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 19. Senior Alycia Cridebring and junior Katie Fry will also buoy the UC Davis lineup after both finished among the top five at last year's Big West Conference meet.

"Both teams enter the meet as close to full health as we have been all season, and we have talked about being at our best and running our best in November, when it counts the most," Wartenburg said. "On the men's side we will look for Trevor (Halsted) and Brandon (Pugh) to lead the group, although we know that we also can't afford to rely on one or two men to pull the majority of the load. The same principle holds true on the women's side, and Sarah will race her last conference championship meet alongside a mostly seasoned group of veteran runners."

UC DAVIS MEN'S ENTRIES (with finishes and times from 2012 Big West Championships)
Amar Dholakia (So., Placentia, Calif./Esperanza HS '12) - 39th, 26:07.4
Trevor Halsted (Jr., Davis, Calif./Davis HS '11) - 6th, 24:23.3
Grayson Hough (Sr., Davis, Calif./Davis HS '10) - 40th, 26:10.1
Will Melton (Jr., Walnut Creek, Calif./American River College)
Eric Neill (So., Yreka, Calif./Yreka HS '12) - 46th, 26:39.5
Brandon Pugh (So., San Juan Capistrano, Calif./San Juan Hills HS '12) - 13th, 24:39.8
Nick Ratto (So., Alameda, Calif./St. Joseph Notre Dame HS '12) - 44th, 26:28.3
Jordon Rushing (So., Fair Oaks, Calif./Del Campo HS '12) - 28th, 25:40.0
Nathan Strum (Sr., San Jose, Calif./Pioneer HS '10) - 27th, 25:37.0

UC DAVIS WOMEN'S ENTRIES (with finishes and times from 2012 Big West Championships)
Erika Barr (So., Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS '12) - 56th, 22:31.8
Alycia Cridebring (Sr., Pleasant Hill, Calif./College Park HS '10) - 3rd, 20:13.8
Katie Fry (Jr., Lemon Cove, Calif./Exeter Union HS '11) - 5th, 20:24.6
Shannon Harcus (Sr., Auburn, Calif./Placer HS '10) - 23rd, 21:16.7
Christine Hoffmann (So., San Luis Obispo, Calif./San Luis Obispo HS '12) - 17th, 21:04.9
Hannah Kirkegaard (Fr., Ventura, Calif./Ventura HS '13)
Raquel Lambdin (Jr., Camarillo, Calif./Adolfo Camarillo HS '11) - 25th, 21:21.9
Sarah Sumpter (Sr., Cloverdale, Calif./Healdsburg HS '08) - 2nd, 19:44.4
Anna Welsh (So., Monterey, Calif./Monterey HS '12)