SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's and women's cross country teams will be mindful to pack a few extra layers of clothing this week for the NCAA West Regional Meet in Seattle coming up on Friday, November 10th at the Jefferson Park Golf Course. The meet will be hosted by the University of Washington with 30 plus teams in attendance on both the men's and women's sides vying for qualification to the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on November 18th. The races will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the women's 6k. The men, who will be shifting from the usual 8k distance to 10k, will begin at 11:30 a.m.
NCAA Qualifying Process for Nationals
31 team spots will be on the line with 9 different regional meets occurring across the country over the course of this weekend. 18 bids will be automatically assigned to the teams that finish within the top 2 spots in their region, while the last 13 will be selected at-large. Criteria for selection will be determined by regular season performance as well as placing on this weekend.
For individuals, 38 spots per gender are up for grabs as well for those who are not on a team with a secured national bid. The top 4 individuals from each region that are not on a qualifying team will be automatically selected, provided they finish top 25 overall in their race. This will leave 2 at-large spots per gender to be up for selection for nationals which, like the at-large team spots, will be selected based on regular season performance and regional placing.
The UCSB women are coming off a strong season which recently culminated in their first Big West Conference Championship title since 2010. Their current regional ranking at 14th matches what they placed last year at regionals, but with the women's team returning 5 of their top 7 from last year's meet, they're more than capable of besting their current ranking. With 3 nationally ranked teams already in the field of course (#3 Oregon, #7 Stanford, #16 Washington), it'll be a hard fought battle to secure the points needed for a high team finish.
Recently crowned Big West Conference champion Jenna Hinkle will be looking to improve on her 31st place finish from last year's regional meet which was just outside of contention for an individual at-large bid for nationals. She's already squared off with a smaller-scale national caliber field at the Dellinger Invitational back in late September, so if she can replicate that performance, she'll be in the running for a spot on the line in Louisville. Fellow Gaucho Katie Camarena is not too far off a national bid of her own either. The No. 2 scorer just came off an incredible 3rd place performance at the conference meet, and has been following an upward trend with each meet she competes in. Suffice to say, she'll be keeping a keen eye on that front pack when the time comes as well.
After Hinkle and Camarena, the rest of the team scoring will most likely fall under the likes of Celeste Wilson, Emily Lopez, and Isa Marshall who all took part in securing that aforementioned conference title. The lot of them all executed their best races of the season so far less than two weeks ago, so if everyone is on point, a top 10 team placing is within reach.
The men's team was able to step up at the conference meet to place second overall behind Cal Poly, which in turn bumped their regional ranking all the way up to 12th after not being ranked for the majority of the regular season. A top 10 team finish will also be on the mind for the men's team after finishing 14th last year like the women. With senior George Baier being the only regional returner from last year however, they'll need another step up in performance Friday in order to keep that goal within reach.
Redshirt freshman Yousef Baddour made a big statement at the conference meet with an incredible 5th place finish overall, and with previous 10k experience on the track he'll likely be quick to adjust to the additional 2k. Patrick Bourke, George Baier, and Isaiah Lozano all come off some solid conference placings as well after finishing in the top 12, so that pack of three will look to group up along with Baddour. Baier in particular has been to previous iterations of the regional meet with a career high showing of 53rd back in 2015 on the same course, so his guidance may prove pivotal for the men when the time comes. The fight for the 5th scoring position will be left once again to the true freshman group of Jarett Chinn, Brian Schulz, and Nick Randazzo. Chinn came out on top last time for 18th overall at the conference meet, but the longer distance backgrounds of Schulz and Randazzo won't give Chinn that spot without a fight.