Photo by: Ken Grosse/UCSD Athletics
Chia Chang is one of seven women competing for UCSD at Lake Padden Park on Saturday morning.
Tritons Set For NCAA West Regionals In Bellingham Saturday
Release: Wednesday 11/17/2010 
LA JOLLA, Calif. - Following a pair of top-five finishes at the CCAA Championships in Whittier two weeks ago, the UC San Diego cross country team will now travel to Bellingham, Wash. for the 2010 NCAA Division II West Regional Championships this weekend.

Saturday's event will take place at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham, with the men's 10-kilometer race scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m., followed by the women's six-kilometer run at 11:15. Western Washington University will serve as host.

The top four men's teams and the first six women's squads will advance to the NCAA National Championships, which will be held December 4 at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The Tritons will be looking to return to the NCAA meet on both sides for the first time since 2007.

UCSD's men head to Washington ranked seventh in the West region in the most recent USTFCCCA regional poll, while the women are currently 10th. The Triton men finished third behind Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona at the conference championships on November 6 and the women placed fifth behind Chico, Pomona, Cal State Stanislaus and Cal State L.A.

"Our goal is always to run better than we did in the previous race," head coach Nate Garcia said. "We've have a good two weeks of practice since the conference meet and were ready to go this weekend. We're really looking forward to the opportunity."

The men's field will feature a total of five squads that are currently ranked in the USTFCCCAA Top 25. Along with eight-time defending regional champion and fourth-ranked Chico State, No. 8 Alaska Anchorage, No. 10 Western Washington, No. 16 Western Oregon and No. 24 Cal Poly Pomona are the top five squads in the men's race.

UCSD finished ninth at the regional championships in San Francisco last season, failing to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row. The Tritons have put together a strong campaign in 2010, however, and Garcia expects a much better finish on Saturday.

"The long distance definitely suits us well," the fourth-year head coach said. "Saturday will definitely present a strong test, but we're looking forward to getting out there and competing against the rest of our conference and the region."

Representing the Triton men will be Daniel Cooper, Alex Corliss, Mario Flores, Patrick French, Matt Lenehan, Kellen Levy and Jesse Morrill.

Four nationally ranked teams will take part in the women's race, including No. 5 Alaska Anchorage, No. 6 Chico State, No. 7 Western Washington and No. 20 Cal Poly Pomona. UCSD finished seventh in the West Regional Championships in 2009, but with two additional teams qualifying this year, the Tritons are more than capable of claiming an NCAA berth.

"We've been waiting for everyone to run well on the same day this season and it just hasn't happened yet," Garcia added. "If we can put together a strong performance with everybody running at their best, then our women should be in the running for a qualifying spot."

Chia Chang, Catherine Crisp, Kamilah Foley, Heather Hisgen, Aaryn Kobayashi, Jackie Sikkema and Kathryn Turner will be the seven competitors for UCSD in the women's race.

For more information on this weekend's NCAA West Regional Championships, click here.

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