The UCSB men’s and women’s cross country teams were back in action Saturday as members of the team traveled to Stillwater, Oklahoma to race at the Weis-Crockett Invitational, also known as Pre-Nationals, hosted by Oklahoma State. This is the second meet in a row where both the men’s and women’s squads are taking on nationally-ranked teams as they battle on a tough course that will be the home of the NCAA Championships.
The men took off first at 6:30 a.m. PDT on the 8K course as they took on some of the top teams in the country. In their race, the Gauchos took on No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 21 Arkansas, No. 25 Montana State, No. 29 Cal Baptist and Butler, who received votes in the most recent poll. Even with facing these top-ranked competitors on the only true cross country course in the United States, the men’s team came out with an 18th-place finish out of 26 teams, taking down teams like Nebraska, Kansas and DePaul.
Freshman Ethan Godsey continues to shine for this team. The Agoura native finished in 54th out of 241 runners, finishing the race with a time of 24:36.1. Coming in behind him for UCSB was Preston Bowlds. This freshman from San Diego came in with a time of 24:51.1, which was good enough for a 77th-place finish in Stillwater. The third Gaucho to come across the finish line was senior Manan Vats, concluding his time at Oklahoma State with a 25:09.7.
Rounding out the top five finishers for UCSB was Esteban Magana and Matt Richardson. This upperclassmen duo came in with times of 25:18.2 and 25:29.7, respectively. Two more Gauchos also helped the team during their race today, and they were sophomore Advait Krishnan and junior Zane Golpariani. The San Jose native came across the finish line at 25:52.1 while the San Diego native came in at 25:58.8.
The women were also up against some very strong teams. They had No. 3 Oklahoma State in their field while also taking on No. 14 Arkansas, No. 19 Cal Baptist and Liberty, who received votes in the most recent poll. Despite the nationally-ranked teams and tough, hilly course, it didn’t stop the Gauchos from finding success in today’s race as UCSB finished in 12th out of 26 teams, taking down teams like UCLA, Kansas State, Kansas, Purdue and Butler.
Coming across the finish line first for the Gauchos was junior Lauren Lum. The Alameda native led UCSB across the finish line for the first time this season, registering a time of 21:44.7 in this 6K race. With this time, she came in 48th out of 232 runners. Following up behind her was freshman Ava Maier, who secured a 67th-place finish with a time of 22:01.6. Also finishing in the top three for the Gauchos was senior Sarah Chaves, who ended her race with a time of 22:03.5.
Closing out the top five for UCSB was junior Stina Johansson and sophomore Ruby Sirota-Foster. The Ventura College transfer came in with a time of 22:16.5 while the Thousand Oaks native finished her race with a time of 22:21.7. Two other Gauchos contributed to the team’s scoring in this race, and they were the junior duo of Madeline Franco and Sarah Auther. The two came across at 22:29.8 and 22:53.3, respectively, to help the Gauchos with their outstanding finish in today’s race.
“It was a really solid day for both squads in Oklahoma,” said Head Coach Shayla Houlihan. “The men started out the day with true freshman Ethan Godsey once again leading the way. The men were competitive the whole way and closed hard over the last kilometer. The women stole the show and placed 12th in a super competitive field. We beat a lot of regionally-ranked teams from outside of our region. I was most impressed with Lauren Lum and true freshman Ava Maier; they never let off the accelerator the entire race. Oklahoma State’s cross country course is a tough, grueling course. Both teams did a great job during their races and fought the whole way. This will help immensely in the coming week as we prepare for The Big West Championships.”
Kristen Keller is the associate athletic director for communications and digital strategy at UCSB.