John Fajardo | Courtesy Photo

Cal Poly Cross Country added to its history of success with first-place finishes for both the men’s and women’s teams at the 2018 Big West Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct 27. At the Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, CA, the men’s team defeated UC Santa Barbara 32-37, and the women’s team beat the hosting CSU Fullerton 33-39.

The men’s team won their third consecutive team trophy, recording the fourth three-peat Big West Conference championship in program history. The women’s team reclaimed their Big West Conference crown, taking first place for the third time in four years. 

The Mustangs were led to individual wins by junior Miranda Daschian and sophomore Jake Ritter. Daschian broke the course record by coming in at 21:23:01 and beating CSU Fullerton’s Samantha Huerta by 3.4 seconds.

“I’m not really the kind of person that likes to go out really fast,” Daschian said. “I like having people breathing down my neck and hearing people behind me to keep me alert to what I have to do, especially at the end.”

Ritter won the 8K individual title, beating UC Santa Barbara’s Daniel Mountcastle by 11.6 seconds.

“I was really excited,” Ritter said. “As soon as I crossed the finish line it was definitely a rush, and then I looked back and saw a bunch of my teammates right behind me. It was an amazing feeling.”

Cal Poly’s Cross Country program has a long tradition of success that sets it apart from other cross country programs.

“The area that we live in is pretty amazing for running, because there are trails everywhere,” Daschian said. “You can run by the ocean like we do most Sundays. I think that lends a lot to the championship and the winning streaks that we have.”

While winning the Big West Conference title is a vital step in heading to the NCAA Championship, the Mustangs’ eyes were always looking beyond conference races.

“Regionals has really been our goal this whole season because we had the conference in the bag,” Ritter said.

Both Cal Poly teams will compete in the NCAA West Regional Championships at Haggin Oaks Golf Course in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 9.

We’re going to have to put in some work, especially with some of the teams around us being so strong like UCLA,” Daschian said. “We’re kind of riding on a high and we have a lot of motivation and just excitement going into regionals.”

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