Cal Poly Cross Country is looking to repeat past Big West Conference Championship success at the Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif. on Oct. 27.
Both men’s and women’s cross country teams have recorded multiple top five finishes this season.
The Mustangs have a long tradition of winning the Big West Conference Championship. The men’s cross country team has had four previous three-peats (1998-2000, 2003-2009 and 2011-2013), and are looking to add another with wins in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Cal Poly’s women’s team is trying to regain the title this year after winning back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016. Between the two teams, Cal Poly has collected a total of 49 team conference championship titles in cross country.
Video by Sawyer Milam
One factor that has added to Cal Poly’s success is the depth and availability of the Mustangs’ talent.
“If one person has an off day, there are going to be three or four more [runners] that can take his place,” senior runner Peter Cotsirilos said. “Honestly, if we keep doing what we have been doing this season then we got this in the bag.”
Senior runner Katie Izzo also spoke about the great pool of talent on the women’s team, which has led the women’s team to overall success this year.
“This season is the first where we do not have any freshman [at the Big West Conference Championships], but that just speaks to the depth of our program as we have a lot of healthy upperclassmen,” Izzo said.
Cal Poly opened up their season on Sept. 1 with a sweep as both the men’s and women’s team placed first at the Mark Covert Classic. Both teams worked to familiarize themselves with the terrain of Carbon Canyon Regional Park, as the Big West Conference Championships will be hosted on the same exact course. The Mustangs kept that momentum rolling as the men’s team finished first and the women’s team finished second at their second competition at the UCSB Lagoon Open on Sept. 15.
The Cal Poly men’s team made up for the loss of previous front-runners over the last two years with more consistent finishes by other runners.
“We [seniors] have been constantly able to move up through the rankings to make up for losing that locked in number one spot in a race,” Cotsirilos said.
Cal Poly’s third competition was at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 29. Cal Poly was one of 18 men’s teams to compete in the eight-kilometer race. The women’s team was one of 19 teams to compete in the six-kilometer race. Although Cal Poly missed out on one of the top three spots, the men’s team was finished with a notable fourth-place finish. The women’s team finished near the top three as well with a fifth-place finish.
Cal Poly’s final regular-season competition was their largest contest of the year. Cal Poly was one of 35 teams to compete. The men’s team finished 15th, and the women’s team did only slightly better with a 14th place finish.
With the regular season complete, Cal Poly is now facing their biggest competition of the season. For Mark Conover, director of track and field and cross country, a victory means more than just another Big West Conference Championship for the trophy case.
“It would validate the hard work and effort that this group put in,” Conover said. “They were good teammates toward each other by believing in one another.”