The women’s cross country team had a strong showing at the NCAA West Region Cross Country Championships in Seattle Nov. 10, even though the team finished 18th overall and did not send any runners to the national championships.
The team is in the middle of a rebuild and head coach Priscilla Bayley said that the way the team performed at the meet is a sign the team is headed in the right direction.
“We ran a very young team and they competed very well, so I was very happy with their performances,” Bayley said. “I think it says a lot for the future of the program.”
Bayley said that the young runners showed they learned what she hoped they would from the season.
“The goal for them going in was to get some great experience out of this meet for the future and to really get in the race,” Bayley said. “They got off the line very aggressively and positioned themselves well early on, so I was quite happy with how they competed.”
Leading the younger group of runners Cal Poly sent to the race was freshman Sierra Brill who placed 64th overall with a time of 21 minutes and .09 seconds. Redshirt junior Maddie McDonald, one of the more experienced members of the team, finished in 21 minutes and 34.2 seconds while freshman Abbey Fisk took 109th place with a time of 21 minutes and 45 seconds.
In addition to being the fastest runner from Cal Poly at regionals, Brill won Big West Freshman of the Year for her standout season.
“It was really exciting,” Brill said. “I didn’t really know it was an award to be had until like a week before conference. It was really fun. I was really happy to have earned that title.”
Brill attributed part of the new runners’ success to the positive way they have been treated by the team veterans.
“The upperclassmen have been really welcoming to the underclassmen and the new people on the team,” Brill said. “I think that’s a big part of why we do well is because we felt like we belong on the team. We feel like we belong together. We’re a family. They’ve given their two cents, their experience and it’s really helpful.”
Looking forward, the Mustangs are poised to make a run at nationals next season. Junior Peyton Bilo, who placed in the top 25 individually at nationals last year, will return after redshirting this season. With the strength of Bilo added to the team’s new flock of young talent, Cal Poly unquestionably has the talent to make a deep run in the playoffs.