Posted: Nov 16, 2011 6:08 PM by Andrew Masuda
A Big West title, two conference Freshmen of the Year honors and two major coaching awards are not enough for the Cal Poly cross country team. The Mustangs seek more history this season headed into next week's NCAA Division I Championships.
Wednesday afternoon, Athletic Director Don Oberhelman saluted the runners before they departed for the Terre Haute, Indiana.
The men's team is making its seventh appearance at nationals. This is the first year the women's program is sending runners. "I call it batting 1.000," said 15th year head coach Mark Conover, who was named the US Track&Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's West Region Men's Coach of the Year for the third time in his career on Wednesday. "Fortunately these people all made it happen because of the belief they were going to make it happen," added Conover about his talented group of runners.
True freshman Meghan Breadmore and senior Leanne Fogg are the trail blazers for the women's program. Last weekend, Fogg finished 16th and Breadmore 17th at the West Regional to capture two of the four available invitations for individual runners. " I wanted to cry, but I was too happy to cry so I couldn't," said Breadmore. "Going back to Indiana is going to be more of an experience than just a race being able to share it with someone you're so close to."
Fogg, who overcame an injury she suffered in the spring during track season to qualify, said she and Breadmore are peaking at the perfect time. "I still have pretty high goals. I think we can both get in the top 40 and achieve all-American status there," said Fogg. "We just need to ride this out one last time and leave it all out on the course and see what we can do."
Fresh of its 11th Big West Conference title in the last 14 years and a third place finish at the West Regional, the men's team debuted in the national polls this week at 24th. The program has four top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championship, including 10th place in 2004. They finished 23rd their last trip, which was in 2008 when current senior Daniel Gonia finished 73rd overall. "I think we're on the upswing right now. There's really nothing that's out of the question for us," said Gonia, who finished in 9th place at last week's regional. All seven Cal Poly runners placed in the top 47 to capture one of the two at-large berths to nationals issued to teams in the West Region.
The men's race begins at 9:08 am PDT on Monday, followed by the women's race at 9:58 am.
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