Event: Big West Championships
Where: UC Riverside Agricultural Operations Course
When: Saturday 9 a.m.
Who to watch: Sophomore Sarah Sumpter was named the Big West female cross country athlete for the week of Oct. 21. Sumpter was the first Aggie to win the award since current assistant coach Kim Conley earned the honor last year.
The Cloverdale, Calif. native posted a time of 21:21.9 at the NCAA pre-nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. to lead all UC Davis runners.
“Sarah has emerged as a front-runner on the women’s side,” said coach Drew Wartenburg. “I expect her to have a big weekend.”
Did you know? The men finished second and the women finished third overall at the 2008 Big West Championships, a program-best for both teams.
Preview: For the Aggies, the Big West Championships marks the pinnacle of what they’ve been training for all season.
UC Davis will send nine men and nine women to Riverside with hopes of topping last year’s historic run at the Big West Championships.
“We have yet to win a Big West title in cross country,” Wartenburg said. “We want to come home with some hardware this year.”
On the men’s side Cal Poly has run the table, winning six straight Big West titles. UC Davis finished second to the Mustangs last year, the highest finish ever for the men.
The Aggies hope top runners Russ Pfaff and Jon Peterson will finish in the top 10 each to help them accomplish their goal of winning a title.
“We really need [Pfaff and Peterson] as a one-two punch to lead us this weekend,” Wartenburg said.
On the ladies’ side, UC Davis looks to top defending champion and host UC Riverside for its first cross country title.
Wartenburg said that the women have a realistic shot of winning the title this year, but they will have to race for their lives to do so.
The NCAA Regionals are two weeks after the Big West Championships, but the Aggies will keep all of their focus on this weekend’s meet.
“We’re geared to leave it all out at the Big West [Championships],” Wartenburg said. “There is no way you can look past a conference meet.”
– Jason Alpert