The weight has been lifted — UC Davis cross country now has its first ever Big West Conference women’s title.
“It’s been something that’s been talked about in the program since we moved to Division I,” said coach Drew Wartenberg. “In the short term it relieves a lot of pressure, because now we don’t have to deal with the questions of ‘When are you going to win one?’”
The long-awaited win was a group effort for the Aggies.
UC Davis placed three runners in the top-10 and five runners in the top-14 of the women’s 6-K race. To Wartenberg, the team depth led them to victory.
“Anytime you place that well you’re going to have a good chance to win,” Wartenberg said. “The team is at a point where they really trust their fitness and trust each other and that’s what it takes to win.”
Junior Sarah Sumpter led the Aggies with a second place finish in her return to the Big West Championships. After missing all of last season due to her bout with brain cancer, Sumpter made her coach proud in this race.
“[Sumpter] ran hard and she ran from the front,” Wartenberg said. “Despite all the adversity she has gone through she hasn’t changed her style at all.”
Sumpter was followed by sophomore Alycia Cridebring and freshman Kristine Lozoya — who finished eighth and 10th, respectively.
On the men’s side, UC Davis was led by senior Jonathan Peterson, who finished fifth as he attempted to defend his Big West individual title.
While it is difficult to repeat in Division I athletics, this was not the result Peterson was hoping for.
“He just didn’t have gas in the tank late,” Wartenberg said. “There are some pieces to pick up, but also there is a lot of motivation that will come from this.”
With the conference championships now out of the way, UC Davis will focus its attention on the Doc Adams Invitational in Davis on Saturday and the NCAA Regionals at Stanford Nov. 12.
“Recovery starts immediately,” Wartenberg said. “Monday is a new week, so now it’s time to get fresh and hungry for our upcoming meets.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.