WHITTIER, Calif. -
The UC San Diego cross country teams were back in action on Saturday, competing in the 2010 California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships at Legg Lake in Whittier Narrows Regional Park.
The Tritons finished third out of seven teams competing in the men's 8k, while UCSD took fifth place among the 11 squads running in the 6k women's event. The Triton men moved up two spots after finishing fifth in McKinleyville in 2009, while the women slid three places following a second place showing a year ago.
Chico State continued its recent domination of the conference championships, winning both the men's and women's titles for the third consecutive year.
The men ran first on Saturday morning and it was redshirt senior Jesse Morrill leading the pack for UCSD. The Huntington Beach native finished 11th overall with a final time of 25.11.6. Morrill, who has been the Tritons' top individual finisher on four occasions in 2010, earned a spot on the All-CCAA squad by virtue of his top-15 finish.
Rookie Kellen Levy was the next runner to complete the course for UCSD, clocking in at 25:38.6, which was good enough for 18th place. The first freshman to finish, Levy took home CCAA Freshman of the Year accolades for his performance.
Mario Flores and Patrick French finished 21st and 22nd with respective times of 25:46.8 and 25:48.4, while Matt Lenehan rounded out the scoring for UCSD, posting a time of 25:58.4 to claim 26th place.
"Our pack running was really good today and it made the difference in beating San Francisco State for third place," head coach Nate Garcia said. "We just need to continue to close the gap early in races. We had too much distance to make up."
Chico State turned in yet another impressive performance, claiming the first four spots in the race and six of the top seven to easily win the program's ninth consecutive conference title on the men's side. Brent Handa was named the CCAA Runner of the Year after breaking the tape with a time of 24:41.3, while the Wildcats' Isaac Chavez finished second overall at 24:41.6 to earn CCAA Newcomer of the Year honors.
CSUC finished with 16 points to easily outdistance the rest of the field. Host Cal Poly Pomona finished second with 57 points, while UCSD totaled 87. San Francisco State was fourth with 108, followed by Humboldt State (117), Cal State Stanislaus (190) and Cal State Monterey Bay (215).
Sophomore Jackie Sikkema was the top individual finisher for the Tritons on the women's side, placing 25th overall with a time of 23:14.0. She finished three spots in front of teammate Chia Chang, who clocked in at 23:19.4 for 28th place.
Heather Hisgen, Kamilah Foley and Catherine Crisp were the final three runners to score for UCSD, finishing in the 32nd through and 34th spots, respectively. Hisgen finished with a time of 23:37.2, while Foley came in at 23:38.1 and Crisp wrapped up the course in 23:41.3.
"We were pleased with our team's willingness to pick each other up and not worry about where we were in the race," Garcia said of the women's performance.
Chico State's Kara Lubieniecki was the race's top finisher, collecting Runner of the Year honors with a winning time of 21:30.2. Teammate Michelle Johnson finished 10th overall at 22:23.1 to win the CCAA Newcomer of the Year award, while Freshman of the Year accolades went Cal Poly Pomona's Sarah Gulli, who finished 24th with a final time of 23:08.4.
Chico's Gary Towne was named the CCAA Coach of the Year on both sides, as the Wildcats claimed six out of the day's eight specialty awards.
The Chico State women dominated the field as well, posting nine of the top 10 times en route to their seventh conference championship in the last nine years. The Wildcats finished with 19 points in the scoring, which was a commanding 53 points in front of second place Cal Poly Pomona. Cal State Stanislaus scored 125 to finish third, while Cal State L.A. was fourth with 137, finishing just eight points in front of UCSD to round out the top five.
Cal State San Bernardino finished sixth with 153 points, followed by San Francisco State (170), Humboldt State (179), Sonoma State (230), Cal State Dominguez Hills (261) and Cal State Monterey Bay (335).
Garcia and the Tritons will now have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Division II West Regionals, which will be held Saturday, November 20 at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham, Wash.