After the events had played out, the Mustangs were a surprise second place while the men finished third.
“Certainly we accomplished (our goal) on the women’s side,” Crawford said. “The women’s team was really the team in question throughout the year in terms of where we would come together and score some points.”
Crawford said she was proud of the effort put forth by the men’s team as well.
“It was a battle to the end,” Crawford said. “We’re really proud of how those guys fought. I think we did surprise a couple of teams even on the men’s side knowing that we had taken some major hits within our sprint core and yet we were still able to finish the way we did.”
The Mustangs were without top sprinter Jarred Houston who had been injured in spring football practice. Houston was expected to be one of Cal Poly’s major contributors when the NCAA West Regional begins today.
Instead Crawford will look toward the 18 athletes that made the trip to Eugene, Ore. hoping to find a way into the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. next month.
“We’re excited about (the impact) they are going to have this weekend,” Crawford said. “For many of these athletes their best performance is ahead of them. That’s what we’ve worked towards all year long.”
The athletes that qualified for the regional did so by meeting a “regional standard” requirement. That requirement is measured as being among the top 100 collegiate athletes in that event in the country. There are four regionals conducted through the region meaning that about 25 athletes will be competing for a spot at the nationals in each event this weekend.
“The next step is to raise that bar even higher so that we can advance some people to the NCAA championship. On the women’s side, after the kind of conference meet she had, Julie Dufresne is really primed to be a national contender this year and perhaps an All-American.”
Dufresne, who was named Big West Athlete of the Year, won two events during the conference championship, taking the shot put with a throw of 52-8 3/4 and the discus with a 161-3 mark. She was the only multi-event winner on either side for the Mustangs.
Big West Freshman of the Year Derek Thomas also has a shot to advance, according to Crawford.
“Derek Thomas has one of the best times in the 1,500 meters in the western region and he could surprise everyone and sneak into a top five placing and advance to the national championship.”
While Crawford said she felt those two athletes had the best chance of advancing, she added that anything is possible from this point on.
“Every team is going to have it’s surprises,” she said.