At a time when many cross-country races are nothing more than glorified road races, Saturday’s California Collegiate Athletic Assn. Championships at Bonelli Regional County Park in San Dimas was the equivalent of a backpacking trip. Some of the runners would say the change was less than refreshing, however.
Last year’s CCAA championships were run on a flat course at Cal State Northridge, but this year the race was loaded with hills. Nevertheless, there was no change at the top.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo won its eighth consecutive CCAA women’s crown. Cal State Los Angeles finished second with 64 points and Northridge was third with 68.
In the men’s race, San Luis Obispo captured its second title in the past 3 years. Northridge was fifth with 129 points.
“This is a brutally tough course,” Cal State Northridge Coach Don Strametz said. “I think we’re all a little crazy to be running it a week before the West regionals. . . . I’m not sure if we’ll be recovered by next weekend.”
Top Matador finishers Jorge Castro--who was 10th in the men’s race--and Gina Jaurequi--who was fifth in the women’s race--might agree.
Both were limping noticeably after their races. Castro clocked 28 minutes, 30 seconds over the 5-mile course, and Jaurequi was timed in 18:51 over the 5,000-meter (3.1 miles) course.
“My feet were killing me in the last couple of miles,” said Castro, who has been nursing a tender right foot for several weeks. “I could really feel it when I was running downhill on the rocky part of the course.”
Said Strametz of Castro, a 1987 NCAA Division II All-American: “The course definitely took a toll on him. He was in fifth place with a mile to go and he faded. Usually, that’s the strongest part of his race.”
But the course suited Cal Poly San Luis Obispo just fine.
With Pauline Stehly (18:30) and Melanie Hiatt (18:31) finishing first and second, San Luis Obispo placed 5 runners in the top 7 for a dual-meet-like score of 20 points.
The Mustangs, six-time defending Division II champions, had only a 28-second gap between their first and fifth runner.
“That’s been our strength all year,” Coach Lance Harter said. “We don’t have the dominant front runner we had the last two years, but we have more depth as a team.”
Cal Poly Pomona (98), UC Riverside (126) and Cal State Bakersfield (153) rounded out the scoring.
“Gina ran extremely well,” Strametz said of Jaurequi. “And so did the women as a team. Cal State L. A. was ranked fourth in the country and we barely lost to them.”
Heather Brookes (13th), Megan Warner (14th), Georgia McLean (15th) and Tammy McCarty (21st) added to the scoring for Northridge, the ninth-ranked team in the Division II poll.
Jesus Gutierrez (27:38) of Cal State L. A. won the men’s race, but fourth-ranked San Luis Obispo turned back the eighth-ranked Golden Eagles for the team title, 38-54.
Cal Poly Pomona, the ninth-ranked team in the Division II poll, placed third (63), followed by 12th-ranked UC Riverside (88) and Northridge.