LA JOLLA, Calif. -
After both squads ran well at Legg Lake two weeks ago, the UC San Diego cross country teams will head back to Whittier for the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships on Saturday.
Hosted by Cal Poly Pomona, the conference meet will be held at Whittier Narrows Regional Park, with the men's 8k beginning at 9:00 a.m. and the women's 6k scheduled to follow at 10:00.
A total of 20 teams from the CCAA's 12 member institutions will compete, with each school entering up to 10 runners. The top 15 finishers in each race will earn a spot on the All-CCAA team and Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year accolades will be awarded after the competition.
Chico State, Cal Poly Pomona and UCSD highlight the men's field, as the three squads enter Saturday's race ranked first, sixth and seventh in the latest USTFCCCA West Regional poll, respectively. The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 4 nationally and should be favored to win a ninth consecutive CCAA title after dominating the field in McKinleyville in 2009.
The three teams to watch on the women's side are Chico State, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Stanislaus. The Wildcats enter Saturday's competition ranked No. 2 in the West Region, while the Broncos are fourth and the Warriors are eighth. The Tritons are currently ranked 10th in the region, one spot behind Cal State L.A.
Like their male counterparts, the Chico State women also captured the CCAA crown in 2009, winning the title for the sixth time in eight years.
UCSD's women finished second in last year's race, while the men placed fifth. Head coach Nate Garcia will enter 10 student-athletes in each race, with the top five finishers counting towards the team's overall point total.
Leading the charge in the men's race will be redshirt senior Jesse Morrill, who has been the Tritons' top individual finisher in three of the four events he has entered this season. A native of Huntington Beach, Calif., Morrill has a pair of top-three finishes in 2010 and will look to run strong again on Saturday.
Also competing for UCSD on the men's side will be a duo of talented freshman in Mario Flores, and Kellen Levy. Flores was the Tritons' top finisher at the Roy Griak Invitational on September 25, while Levy led UCSD to a team title at the Bronco Preview Meet two weeks ago and earned CCAA Male Runner of the Week accolades for his performance.
Chia Chang and Aaryn Kobayashi will be the two runners to watch for UCSD on the women's side, as both have put together impressive resumes so far in 2010. Chang has been the Tritons' top individual finisher on four occasions this season, while Kobayashi has finished first or second in four of her five events.
Garcia's squads had a strong showing on the Legg Lake course on October 23, as the men had six of the top eight finishers to win the Bronco Preview Meet title, while the women had five runners finish in the top 15 to claim second place behind Cal State Stanislaus.
Levy finished third overall to lead the men, while fellow rookie Kamilah Foley finished sixth to pace the women.