Bryan Beilke

The Cal Poly men’s cross country team won its fifth-straight Big West Conference title Saturday at the Cuesta Fairbanks Memorial course.

Cal Poly finished in the first five places, an accomplishment that has never before occurred in Big West Conference history.

“That is something that very rarely happens, where a team scores a perfect score, one through five,” head coach Mark Conover said. “That’s the lowest score possible, 15. You can go a whole coaching career and never experience a team doing that, so I’m thrilled for them.”

Senior Phillip Reid successfully defended his title over the 8 kilometer course and took home the individual win for the second year in a row. Reid finished with a time of 25:12.4, a new course record.

In fact, the top six finishers of the day all beat the previous course record which was held by former Cal Poly runner Sean Ricketts, who ran the course in 25:38.20 in 2003.

“They put on a wonderful performance,” Conover said. “It’s a testament to what they wanted to get done and where they wanted their season to end.”

UC Santa Barbara took home second place with a score of 53 points overall.

On the women’s side, the top finisher for the team was sophomore Kimberly Donatelli, who placed seventh with a time of 22:16.5 over the 6 kilometer course.

“I was happy with the outcome because I wanted to get in the top ten,” Donatelli said. “The only thing that keeps me going is the teammates. If you have chemistry on the team that makes all the difference; it’s hard to just be a runner on your own. It’s these girls that make it happen.”

Conover said he was pleased with the outcome of the women’s race and was proud of the young team, which is made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores.

“All the freshmen can use this as a learning experience and know there is work ahead for them,” Conover said. “They are committed, wonderful, dedicated people who want to continue to make improvements. For them to get this experience was valuable. It speaks well for the future because the whole group is back next year.”

Some of the members of the women’s team expressed their own satisfaction with how the day turned out, echoing Conover’s belief that the team gained valuable experience from this race.

“We have a really young team. We’ve come a long way since (last year),” sophomore Bridie McCarey said.

“We think next year is the year to look for,” freshman Katie Wolfe said. “It’s a really good experience and we learned what conference is all about. We’re really looking forward to next year.”

The women took seventh place overall with 147 points. The overall winner was UC Santa Barbara, which finished with just 44 points.

The Mustangs will run next in the NCAA West Regional on Nov. 10 in Eugene, Ore. From there they will have a chance to qualify for the national competition.

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