69.4 F

Davis, California

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Column: Racing to a title

Championships – they come few and far between.

No one understands this more than a San Francisco Giants fan. Fifty-two years in California and there’s finally a Commissioner Trophy at the corner of Third and King.

Finally, Giants fans can breathe a sigh of relief. We are World Series Champions (just let that stew for a little.)

Felix Rodriguez and Jose Cruz Jr. can finally enter the pearly gates of San Francisco Baseball history.

Scott Spezio and Bobby Richardson no longer haunt the dreams of Giants fans. (That Rally Monkey can still burn in baseball hell.)

In order for the Giants to call themselves the best team in baseball, a perfect combination of randomness had to occur. Nine teams needed to pass on a skinny kid from Washington in the 2006 draft. Four clubs needed to believe you shouldn’t draft a catcher in the top 10 in the 2008 draft.

To be called the best team in its respective league, a perfect combination of random events and seemingly useless occurrences need to happen.

Setting the bar high at the beginning of the season helps as well.

While cross country coach Drew Wartenburg almost expected the Aggies to win the Big West Conference Men’s Team Title at the beginning of the season, the team still needed some breaks along the way.

Runners stayed healthy. Players turned on the jets at the right time during the races.

Nothing shows the perfect timing of the UC Davis runners at the Big West Championships more than the final score itself.

The Aggies edged, and I mean edged, UC Riverside by two points on the men’s side.

It took about 10 minutes from the end of the race for the winner to be determined.

“We were sitting on pins and needles that entire time,” Wartenburg said. “It was some very tense moments. It was a sense of limbo at best.”

As close as the race was, Wartenburg felt his team was the best in the conference. He set a goal for the Aggies at the onset of the season to claim UC Davis’ first-ever Big West Team Title.

“We went down there with the intention of winning,” Wartenburg said. “It would have been a disappointment if we didn’t. These races are never a guarantee, but it feels good to win.”

Wartenburg was proud of his team because they achieved the goal they set at the beginning of the year.

“The sentiment of the team is one of accomplishment,” Wartenburg said, “in terms of staking themselves to an objective and doing the pieces to execute.

“I’m, relieved that a bunch of guys can hang onto a dream and we can come out on top.”

There wasn’t any time for the Aggies to bask in the glory of a team title, however. UC Davis had a quick turnaround as it competed in the Doc Adams Open in Davis.

The Aggies will travel to Eugene, Ore. next weekend to take part in the NCAA West Region Championships. Almost immediately after claiming the Big West Team Title, Wartenburg turned his attention to the West Region Championships.

“By no means are we going to rest from this race to the regional meet,” Wartenburg said. “We’re going to use this win as momentum for the next race.”

The Giants’ title and the Aggies’ title are a study of contrast in a way. One team needed some magic and luck to come out of nowhere to shock the baseball world.

The other had a goal of winning a title from the onset and accomplished it.

The path to a title is different for every team. The one common factor is a perfectly random timeline of events that ultimately leaves one team on top.

To talk about the MLB World Champions or Big West Men’s Cross Country Champions, e-mail JASON ALPERT at sports@theaggie.org.


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