Many of Cal Poly’s athletic teams are headed for success this fall. Get ready – this is just the beginning of an action-packed quarter.
After winning the Big West Conference for the third straight year in 2005, the men’s cross country team is looking for a fourth in 2006.
With four senior men, head coach Mark Conover said the team’s “veteran look” contributes to the high expectations for the season.
“I think it’s a matter of everyone having another year of training and experience under their belts,” Conover said. He will be looking to seniors Luke Llamas, Matt Johnsrud, Brian Baker and Jameson Mora to lead the Mustangs to another conference title.
While the men are looking to their older runners to make a mark this season, the women’s cross country team will be counting on young runners to make big contributions, Conover said.
Of the seven incoming freshmen, the team will be counting on at least three for strong performances. Juniors Lauren Magdaleno and Rachel Valliere, as well as sophomore Kelsey Delagardelle will also be major factors on the team, Conover said. His hopes for the 2006 season include a top-three conference finish and a top-12 NCAA West Regional finish, which would top last year’s sixth-place conference and 23rd-place regional finishes.
Although head coach Scott Cartwright said the loss of Travis Bertoni “will definitely leave a void” in the men’s golf team, he said he is counting on the widespread talent of this year’s golfers to repeat as Big West Conference champions. Cartwright said the team’s biggest competition will come from last year’s second-place Big West finisher UC Irvine, which is returning all of its players and landed two promising recruits.
“I would say expectations are pretty high for the men,” Cartwright said. “It just depends on getting the right formula throughout the year.”
He said all nine golfers will be counted on to contribute, and named junior David Lewinski and freshman Geoff Gonzalez as men to watch this year.
Like the men’s golf team, Cartwright said this year the women’s team also encompasses great team depth throughout. Following last year’s fifth-place Big West finish, Cartwright is targeting a .500 record.
“Last year’s team struggled a little bit,” he said. “We had lost four seniors from the previous year, so it was definitely a rebuilding year.” With the help of three incoming freshmen who will compete for traveling positions, and senior Jessica Huss, Cartwright said he is looking to increase consistency in the performances of this year’s women golfers.
New men’s soccer head coach Paul Holocher comes to Cal Poly from UC Santa Cruz with the hopes “to develop a great soccer culture.” He plans to unify the new and returning players and put more emphasis on recruitment in future years. With the academic reputation and Central Coast location of Cal Poly, Holocher said the Mustangs should be attracting top-notch athletes.
As far as the 2006 season, Holocher said he will be looking to K.J. Lenehan, Eric Ward and Dan Cumming to fill team leadership roles, and expectations will be high for the incoming freshmen as well.
“A lot of young guys are working very hard in order to make an impact,” Holocher said.
Of last year’s 10-5-4 overall finish and 2-4-1 Big West Conference record, head coach Alex Crozier said the women’s soccer team “didn’t play to its full potential.”
He is looking to prepare a more assertive team for the 2006 season. “Overall, I think the team is very deep and talented,” Crozier said. He is counting on team captains Kelsey Carroll, Heidi McQuitty and Alli Tramel to fill leadership roles.
The men’s tennis team will be undergoing major changes in the 2006 season with new head coach Justin McGrath. Although this year’s coaching staff will be altered, the team is looking to a few returning players to lead the 2006-07 team, said women’s tennis coach Hugh Bream before McGrath was named head coach.
Senior and three-year starter Matt Baca, who played No. 2 singles last year, will be a large factor with his “big, left-handed serve,” Bream said. He also named last year’s No. 4 singles player, Fred Dewitte, with a “big forehand, lots of speed, and very relaxed attitude,” and South Africa native Darryn Young, “a very good doubles player,” as expected contributors to this year’s team.
With three returning starters, all of whom have had wins against Pac-10 players, and the help of five incoming players, two of whom are international, head coach Hugh Bream said this year’s women’s tennis team is a “good team that is just going to get better in the next four years.”
Last year’s team finished third in the Big West Conference with a 7-3 record and a 13-10 overall finish; however Bream said eight of the overall losses were to top-25 teams, including No. 1 Stanford.
Senior Carol Erickson will be a major player on the 2006 team after finishing with a successful showing at last year’s Northwest Regional Championships.
Following its first season with an aggressive offensive strategy, the volleyball team is looking to best last year’s third-place Big West Conference finish. In fact, assistant coach Rafael Pall is aiming for a first-place Big West finish in 2006, and is looking to the six incoming freshmen to make big impacts.
Along with the newcomers, seniors Candace Milton and Arleen Paperny, along with junior setter Chelsea Hayes, are being counted on to make large contributions.
With a nonconference schedule including No. 1 Nebraska, Pall said his hopes are for an above-.500 overall record going into Big West play.