Christopher Gunn

The Cal Poly men’s cross country team finished in seventh place at the NCAA West Regional meet Saturday at the Stanford Golf Course.

A seventh place finish may have seemed like a good showing for a typical school, but such a finish for this year’s men’s team was bittersweet.

Coming into the race, the Mustangs had been ranked as high as third in the region in a recent Mondo Poll, behind only Stanford and Portland.

Their seventh-place finish behind upset-winners University of Arizona, Stanford, Washington, University of Portland and Oregon was just enough to prevent the team from advancing to the NCAA Championships, to be held Nov. 21 at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“It was disappointing, we did not do what we had to do to go on to the NCAAs,” coach Mark Conover said. “If we had finished in sixth we would have gone.”

Conover also said that having multiple newcomers in the race served as a disadvantage this year, but could yield brighter results in future meets.

“We had some newcomers that didn’t really know the intensity of the race,” Conover said. “It made it more difficult.”

Despite the fact that the team missed this year’s NCAA Championships, a lone Mustang managed to make the cut.

Junior Matt Johnsrud finished in 17th place with a time of 30:47 on the 10k course.

The top four competitors in the meet that didn’t make the NCAA Championships on a team were selected to compete. Johnsrud was one of these selections.

“Im exited to go,” Johnsrud said. ” it’s a bittersweet kind of thing, we were expected to go, when it came down to it our team didn’t have it that day.”

Yearlong standouts Brandon Collins and Luke Llamas were sick, Collins raced but did not finish due to stomach problems and Llamas was unable to travel, Johnsrud said.

“It’s going to be hard not having my teammates there to room, warm up and race with,” Johnsrud said, adding that he is ready to race.

Finishing just behind Johnsrud in 18th place, was senior Andy Coughlin who finished with a time of 30:47. Just one second behind Johnsrud, yet Coughlin was not in the top four, leaving him out of the NCAA Championships.

“At the beginning of the championship season Andy and I made a pact to run together,” Johnsrud said. “Andy and I ran almost the entire race together.”

Both Johnsrud and Coughlin did however receive All-Region honors with their performances.

“Andy is a runner that has had a lot of experiences and as much as I’m sure he would love to be there, he is happy for Matt,” Conover said.

Other Mustang finishers included junior Jameson Mora (34th, 31:12), junior Brian Baker (46th, 31:23) and freshman Troy Swier, who was the final scoring member for the team (51st, 31:28).

Despite missing the NCAA Championships, Conover was optimistic about next year.

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