Swarnjit Boyal, Peter Cotsirilos and Mikey Giguere came in second, third and fourth place on Saturday morning at the Big West Cross Country Championships, leading Cal Poly to its second straight men’s team conference title.
The Mustangs won the 8K with 29 points on UC Riverside’s Ag./Ops. Course — 26 ahead of UC Santa Barbara’s 55. Cal State Fullerton was 57 points back of the Blue-Green rivals, scoring 112.
UC Davis grad transfer Thomas Madden claimed the individual title with a performance of 24:13.7, before Boyal, a senior, crossed in 24:21.4.
Through the opening 40 percent of the course, UC Davis’ Jordy Ceja fronted the pack with a pace of 9:48.9, with 10 runners less than a second behind him. By the 6.5K mark, Boyal and Madden were neck-and-neck (20:31.7-20:31.9), nearly 20 seconds ahead of everyone else.
Cotsirilos used the strongest kick of the day to jump from 12th place with only one-&-a-half kilometers remaining all the way up to third (24:39.9).
Giguere finished in 24:40.2, as the tandem of juniors joined Boyal in powering Cal Poly to its 27th men’s cross country conference crown all-time (15 since joining the Big West in 1996).
Also scoring for Cal Poly, sophomore Chas Cook came in seventh place at 24:45.6, and junior Sean McDermott added a 13th-place 24:51.6 in his Big West Championship debut.
Sophomore Alex Merder (15th, in 25:00.5) and senior defending individual medalist Clayton Hutchins (16th, 25:05.0) posted top-20 performances, while sophomore Evan Jameson followed in 25th (25:24.2) and junior Garrett Migliozzi was 46th (26:08.7).
In the Women’s 6k, Mustang sophomore Miranda Daschian led Cal Poly to a close second place, also finishing as the runner-up individually. UCSB senior Jenna Hinkle came in ahead of Daschian, 20:17.1 to 20:26.8.
The Gauchos won with 45 points, edging Cal Poly’s 47, in an outcome tied as the closest score in the 35-year history of the meet. Since 1983, only once before had the championship ever been decided so narrowly — in 2010, when UCSB also prevailed in a Blue-Green battle, 35-37.
Daschian closed on Hinkle over the second half of the event, moving up from a fifth-place 11:07.5 at the 3.2K checkpoint. UCSB sophomore Katie Camarena was also key in clinching the team title, finishing third in 20:28.8.
True freshman Sierra Brill was next for Cal Poly, taking sixth place, in 20:49.5.
The Mustang women, back-to-back champions in 2015 and 2016, almost became the conference’s first squad to three-peat since UC Irvine in 1992.
Julia Vasquez was 10th for the Mustangs (a seven-spot improvement from her time at the 2016 Championships in Hawai’i), clocking a 21:04.5, followed by fellow junior Maddie McDonald in 13th at 21:20.8.
Another true freshman, Angela DiPentino, completed the scoring totals for Cal Poly via a 16th-place 21:29.4, just ahead of first-year teammate Abbey Fisk’s 21:29.9. Freshman Annie Meeder added a 21st-place 21:39.1 in her conference championship debut, followed by junior Hannah Hull in 25th at 21:48.9 and freshman Brigette Takeuchi in 47th at 22:42.2.
Cal Poly will now train for the NCAA West Regional in Seattle on Nov. 10, when qualifiers advance to the National Championships at Louisville on Nov. 18.
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