Mustangs Travel to the Pacific Northwest for the NCAA West Regionals | Tech US News

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Less than two weeks away from its sixth Big West title sweep in program history, Cal Poly cross country heads to the Pacific Northwest on Friday to compete in the NCAA West Regionals hosted by Washington.

Chambers Creek Regional Park action begins at 10 a.m. Friday with the women’s 6K, followed by the men’s 10K at 11 a.m. You can follow live results here.

This is the first time that the meeting of the Western Regional is held this year. It’s also just the second meet UW has hosted at Chambers Creek, the first being the Pac-12 Championship in the spring of 2021.

Individual and team berths to the NCAA Championships will be up for grabs as the top two teams from each of the nine nationwide regionals automatically qualify for the NCAA Finals. The rest of the 31-team fields on the men’s and women’s sides are chosen by an NCAA subcommittee. Performances at regionals play a key role in the selection of the 13 overall teams, making the third- and fourth-place finishers in each regional the most likely candidates.

Individually, the top four finishers in each regional who do not belong to an automatic qualifier or an at-large team will automatically advance to the NCAA Finals as long as they finish in the top 25 in their respective region. Those 36 individual automatic qualifiers will be joined by two at-large selections for a total of 38.

The Mustangs are fresh off a stellar performance at the Big West Championships that saw the men capture their 18th title in program history and the women their eighth, edging out UC Irvine by just 1 point in the closest finish in conference history.

The Cal Poly men, seeking their first-team bid to the NCAA Championships since 2011, will face six teams ranked in the top 30 in the latest USTFCCCA National Coaches Poll in the regionals: No. 1 Stanford, No. 14 of Washington, the n. 18 Oregon, No. 24 Portland, No. 25 Cal Baptist and No. 26 Gonzaga.

The Mustangs are currently ranked No. 7 in the West Region and received votes in the USTFCCCA’s latest national poll for the third straight time. In the Oct. 4 Week 4 poll, Cal Poly earned votes nationally for the first time since 2013.

Seven men will hit the court for the Mustangs Friday. John Bennett, Will Fallini-HaasAnthony Guerra, Aidan McCarthy, Jake Ritter, Xian Shively e Spencer Thurman.

Ritter, the Big West Male Athlete of the Year, had a historic final season for the Mustangs after medically redshirting last year due to injury. On October 29, he became the first athlete to claim three individual Big West cross country titles (2018, 2019 and 2022), running the 8K at UC Riverside’s Ag/Ops course in a record time of 23:27.4. Ritter is also the fourth athlete in program history to earn multiple Big West Male Athlete of the Year awards.

Ritter hopes to add another milestone to his record-setting career Friday as he seeks his first NCAA championship berth. Ritter’s best performance at regionals came in 2019 when she placed 29th with a personal best 10K time of 30:18.7.

Fallini-Haas, McCarthy, Guerra and Bennett also earned All-Big West honors at the conference championships, finishing second, third, sixth and 10th respectively to help Cal Poly finish with a champion-best 22 team points of the men’s conference since 2016. It is the second consecutive season that Fallini-Haas and Guerra have earned all-conference accolades.

Last year, the Cal Poly men took 15th place at the West Regionals and Stanford swept the team titles. Guerra, Shively, Fallini-Haas, McCarthy and Thurman competed at the 2021 regional meet. Guerra paced the Mustangs with a 61st-place finish.

Underrated and overlooked all season, the Cal Poly women’s team shocked the rest of the conference in Riverside when it lifted The Big West trophy for the first time since 2018. In the final 1K of the race, several runners scored valuable team points for the team . Mustangs to allow them to overcome their conference foes.

With that momentum, the women will look to improve on last year’s 14th place finish at Friday’s regionals in Washington with Carissa Buchholz, Tatiana Cornejo, Misty DiazJulia Heckey, Amanda Pot, Sidney Rivas and Nina St. John all set to compete for the Mustangs.

Heckey, a sophomore, is coming off a stellar performance at the conference meet, finishing third overall with a personal-best 6K time of 19:50.2 to earn All-Big West honors. She was Cal Poly’s runner-up at the 2021 West Regional, placing 59th as a freshman. Rivas and Díaz also ran in last year’s regional and this will be Díaz’s third participation in the event.

Outside of Heckey, four other Mustangs placed in the top 20 at The Big West Championships: Rivas 12th, Cornejo 14th, Diaz 15th and Buchholz 19th. Cornejo has impressed throughout the season and last week was named the Big West Women’s Freshman of the Year.

Cal Poly, ranked 13th in the West Region, will face four nationally ranked teams in the regionals: No. 10 Oregon, No. 11 Stanford, No. 14 Cal Baptist and No. 16 Washington.

The NCAA Championship meet is set for Saturday, November 19 at Oklahoma State’s Cross Country Course.

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