The Cal Poly men’s and women’s cross-country teams swept the Big West championships in San Luis Obispo on Saturday. Senior Chris Frias won the men’s race, while sophomore Laura Hollander took the women’s title.
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The Cal Poly men’s cross country team claimed its 13th Big West Conference title Saturday, while the women’s squad captured its fifth.
Saturday’s race marked the second consecutive sweep for both teams, and the first Big West Championship race in San Luis Obispo since 2006.
“It felt great being on our home course,” senior Chris Frias said. “It was fun. It was a team effort definitely, we worked together throughout the course; we pulled away at the end. It was a good day all around.”
The men’s race kicked off at 9:45 a.m. on the Fairbanks Memorial Cross-Country Course. Seniors Frias and Sean Davidson — along with junior Mitch Moriarty — led the pack for most of the 8,000-meter race.
Davidson, a two-time Big West Athlete of the Week, finished 17th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. last month, leading the Mustangs to a 12th-place finish. He and Frias have traded the No. 1 spot multiple times this season, but Saturday belonged to Frias.
“We’re always neck and neck,” Frias said. “(Davidson) had an off day. He was feeling sick. That happens with running. No one’s going to be perfect.”
Frias — last year’s Big West champion — won the individual race, clocking in at 25 minutes, 19 seconds and finished three seconds ahead of Moriarty. Davidson fell to fourth place with a time of 25:31.
Though Frias finished first for the men on Saturday, he’s confident in Davidson’s abilities later this month.
“Today was my day, but regionals, that’s his course,” Frias said. “Every year he beats me at regionals. He’s going to bounce back just fine.”
The men’s team also received plenty of help from its young runners.
Tyler Huntley, Dimitri Voytilla and Clayton Hutchins all cracked the top 20, giving Cal Poly 32 points on the day.
On the women’s side, sophomore All-American Laura Hollander made her return to the trail Saturday, having not raced since Aug. 31 due to a knee injury.
“I didn’t know if I would be racing until a few days ago,” Hollander said. “I’ve been running for a week only, it feels good to finally get back out here and get in a race and prove to myself that my hard work has still been paying off and that I’m hopefully still in a good place for the rest of the season.”
There was no contest.
Five minutes into the race, Hollander had already trotted to a 20-second lead, which continued to grow as the 6,000-meter race progressed.
Hollander, who won the Big West Championships a year ago, broke her own course record and defended her title with a time of 20:43. She finished over a minute in front of the runner-up.
Senior Diana George followed for Cal Poly, finishing sixth overall with a time of 22:03. Sophomore Rachel Bush and freshman Ashley Windsor finished ninth and 10th, respectively.
“Big day for the men and women,” head coach Mark Conover said. “A great day for Cal Poly. What a wonderful scene for the people on the team. They competed so well. They’re defending champions, and that’s how they ran.”
The Mustangs head to Sacramento for the NCAA West Regional on Nov. 15.