The UC Davis cross country teams have been showing their strengths all year long and this weekend they will have an opportunity to see how they fare against some of the top teams in the nation.
The Aggies will send their travel squad to Kentucky for the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet, where there will be close to 10 teams that are nationally ranked. The meet will take place on Saturday.
“This meet is at a pivotal time, it’s the last big meet opportunity before we head into the conference championship,” said head coach Drew Wartenburg. “In order to get an idea of how we stack up, we have to seek out meets with the stronger fields.”
The Aggies will be sending nine of their top runners to the Pre-Nationals meet hosted by University of Louisville.
UC Davis will be led by senior Sarah Sumpter, who placed second overall at the Pac-12 Preview and Alycia Cridebring, who finished fifth overall.
Sumpter finished second overall at last year’s Big West Championships, en route to the Aggies’ first-ever conference championship.
“This is a preview of the race we will run at the NCAA championship in November,” Wartenburg said. “This group has a shot to compete in the nation meet, so if our team performs well, hopefully it will work out for us in the future in qualifying for nationals.”
The rest of the UC Davis runners will be in Santa Clara. The men’s travel squad as well as the women’s younger runners will participate in the Broncos Invitational.
“We’re trying to have the teams compete in a context that will give them the best experience for the postseason,” Wartenburg said. “We’re thinking about getting better week.”
The men’s squad is incredibly young, but have been led by sophomore Trevor Halsted, who was just recently named the Big West Player of the Week.
The women that are not going to Kentucky will also be competing in Santa Clara, with the hopes that they gain experience in the stiff competition that UC Davis faces as a top running school on the West Coast.
“Some of our younger women’s runners may not be racing at the conference championships in a couple weeks, but it’s a good opportunity to get some races in and gain experience for when their time comes,” Wartenburg said.
When UC Davis returns after the meets this weekend, they will have two weeks off before the Big West Championships.
— Matthew Yuen