Ryan Chartrand

The Cal Poly men’s and women’s cross country teams will have a distinct advantage at Saturday’s Big West Cross Country Championships.

The meet will be held at Fairbanks Memorial Cross Country Course near Cuesta College at 10 a.m.

Mark Conover, the head coach of both teams, appreciates the benefit of having the meet so close to campus.

“(The location) is nice, it will be good for everyone to sleep in their own bed, it’s great for the coaches also,” Conover said.

Despite the proximity and what Conover calls “a beautiful course for both runners and spectators,” he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“On paper it looks like it is between us and UC Santa Barbara, but any one of the (six other) teams can sneak up on you,” Conover said of the men’s side

Based on national rankings, it does indeed appear that the Cal Poly and UCSB men’s squads will run ahead of conference competition. Cal Poly comes into the meet ranked 24th in the nation.

The No. 13 Gauchos will attempt to end a Cal Poly reign of dominance, which has seen seven of the last nine titles go to the Mustangs.

Kinesiology junior Phillip Reid has been the most outstanding runner on the men’s side, placing 33rd at pre-nationals, in Terra Haute, Ind., the highest on the team.

That said, Conover also cited sophomore Troy Sweir, freshman Evan Anderson and numerous others as being able to keep up with Reid.

“We have a tight knit group and I expect any one of those guys of being capable of running with Phillip,” Conover said.

Conover describes the women’s team as young, but talented. The women will be running four freshman in this meet alone, including Kimberly Donatelli, Ursula Bergmooser, Bridie McCarey and Alyssa Daw.

The women’s 6K event will begin at 10 a.m. and the men’s 8K will begin at 11 a.m.

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