Men's preview written by John Cusick
Women's preview written by Grace McLaughlin
The CCAA has run through Chico State dating back to 2001 and to be quite honest, the chance of it staying with Chico after this weekend is high. There are two teams that have the firepower to dethrone the Wildcats, but they’ll have to overcome the overwhelming amount of depth that the Wildcats bring to the table.
The Wildcats have only raced three times this year, but two of those times they came away with dominant performances. The first was at the Capital Cross Challenge where they scored 67 points and finished as the 2nd team overall behind only Cal Poly (a Division One program).
Trad Berti, Matthew Herrera, and Wyatt Baxter all finished inside the top 10 in that race which were exceptional performances for them. The #4 and #5 scorers were Remington Breeze and Ramond Lopez who finished inside the top 30. Between Lopez and Berti, there was only 34 seconds giving them a very strong time spread.
Fast forward to the WWU Classic and we see essentially the same thing, but this time over the course of 10,000 meters. Berti once again led the Wildcats, while Jhavan Holston, Baxter, Herrera and Breeze were the other scorers.
Coach Towne has created a culture of team running and they execute that strategy perfectly almost every single year. I don’t expect that plan to be any different this upcoming weekend and it should end with a championship result.
I mentioned two teams earlier that might have the firepower to take down Chico State and those two teams are Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego. Both of these teams have had very strong seasons up until now and they should be able to at least hang with Chico for most of the race.
Beginning with Cal State San Marcos, the Cougars started the season off strong when they knocked off Queens (N.C.) at their home meet with Joshua Litwiller, Kibrom Elias, and Shea Vavra going 3-4-5 that day. Robert Marin was 9th and Phillip Dorado was 12th, only 26 seconds back of Litwiller.
They didn’t quite have the same performance at the Capital Cross Challenge where they only finished 6th as a team. They didn’t have the same pack time as they did at their home meet and that really hurt them there. Once again, they had a lackluster performance at Lewis Crossover causing some concern in terms of where they actually stand this year.
If they can get back to their pack-running that we saw from them at the beginning of the year, there should be no issues for this team going forward, However, without racing as a pack, it might be tough to make any noise...at least in comparison to Chico.
Now on to UC San Diego.
They were the 3rd place team at the Cougar Challenge this year led by Samuel Blake’s strong run and win that day. Aren Johnson (7th), Brett Beattie (15th), Tim Corvese (16th) and Elijah Horwitz (22nd) were the scorers and they actually kept pace with both Cal State and Queens (N.C.), but still saw themselves on the outside looking in.
At the Lewis Crossover, the Tritons took down Cal State and finished 3rd. They were 110 points back of Chico State, but have set themselves up nicely going forward. Blake didn’t finish near the top for his team which likely hurt them, but it still leaves this team with plenty of upside if he rebounds. In their last tune-up meet, Blake returned to his normal self finishing 2nd overall and led the team to a home course team victory.
Both Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego will need to have some very strong performances from their entire team in order to match the depth of Chico State. While anything is possible, I’m not so sure that the Wildcats are going to be slipping up any time soon.
1. Chico State Wildcats
2. UC San Diego Tritons
3. Cal State San Marcos Cougars
1. Samuel Blake (UC San Diego)
2. Trad Berti (Chico State)
3. Joshua Litwiller (Cal State San Marcos)
4. Wyatt Baxter (Chico State)
5. Matthew Herrera (Chico State)
6. Aren Johnson (UC San Diego)
7. Daniel Tull (Humbldt State)
8. Remington Breeze (Chico State)
9. Shea Vavra (Cal State San Marcos)
10. Earnon Smythe (Cal Poly Pomona)
On the women’s side, Chico State (TSR #5) is the top team to beat going into the meet. Based on the Wildcats performances thus far, it is pretty safe to say they will dominate.
Chico State started their season off with a 3rd place finish at the Stump Invite, then a stellar 5th place finish at the Capital Cross Challenge, and a team title at the Western Washington Cross Country Invitational.
The top five at their last meet was Talia Swangler, Destiny Everett, Gracie Dupuis, Haley Boynton, and Nora Pizella. When you consider how well they ran at their last meet, don't be surprised if you see any of them in this lineup with Katie Hawley, Carrie McDonough, Taylor Bailey-Lustvan, and Jalen Burns this weekend.
Chico State’s talent, depth, and consistency is unmatched in the CCAA and that should be enough for the Wildcats to bring home another conference championship.
Following Chico State are the Cal State East Bay Pioneers who have been a pleasant surprise to watch this season. The Pioneers finished 2nd at the Southern Stampede and 11th at the loaded Capital Cross Challenge. Angelina Ranquillo is the team’s front runner, followed by consistent scorers Claire Fisher, Amanda Navarro, Andrea Romero, and Alondra Ortiz.
The UC San Diego Tritons finished not far behind Cal State East Bay with a 15th place finish at the Capital Cross Challenge. Earlier in the season, the Tritons placed 1st at the Cougar Challenge and won their home meet two weeks ago.
The team is led by Madalyne Coney, followed by Sam Rocke, Caitlin Billman, Isabelle Shepard, and Leila Keyvan. Camille Perkins and Kendra Corey should also be running for the Tritons. UC San Diego will be building upon an impressive season and should be able to continue their momentum in an effort to fight for the runner-up spot this weekend.
At the Capital Cross Challenge, UC San Diego finished just one place ahead of Cal Poly Pomona. The Broncos placed 4th at the Cougar Challenge, were 16th at the Capital Cross Challenge, and won the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational.
Luz Garcia is the team's top scorer, followed by consistent supporting scorers Elizabeth Hernandez and Araseli Servin. Other runners such as Pearl Burton, Britaney Solis, Samantha Aguilar, and Elli Kiener are expected to make up the latter half of this lineup come Saturday.
Stanislaus State should easily finish in the top five based off of their performances from earlier in the season. The Warriors won the Kim Duyst Twilight Invitational and finished 18th at the Capital Cross Challenge. Unlike the previous teams, Stanislaus State does not have a main low-stick that the team can rally around.
The runners inside their top seven have a relatively similar talent level and have been mixed up in the results throughout the season. I predict Devianna Salcedo, Nancy Juarez, Ruth Blanco, Makaelyn Bickel, Kayla Jacklich, Megan Oblin, and Teresa Castillo to be in the Warriors' conference lineup.
The only team close to challenging Stanislaus State for 5th place is Cal State San Marcos who started out their season strong with a runner-up performance at the cougar Challenge and then a 20th place finish at the Capital Cross Challenge.
On the individual side of things, Chico State should have several runners finish in the top 10. Wildcats Talia Swangler and Destiny Everett will be in the lead pack fighting for 1st place, while teammates Desirae Jones, Gracie Dupuis, and Nora Pizzella should be in the mix as well.
Angelina Ranquillo of Cal State East Bay finished 23rd at the Capital Cross Challenge and may be considered as a sneaky strong sleeper pick for the win this weekend. Her teammates Claire Fisher and Amanda Navarro could also join her in the top 10.
Luz Garcia of Cal Poly Pomona will be on the cusp of finishing in the top five when you consider that her season has been solid and consistent up to this point.
Nancy Juarez of Stanislaus State has built herself an impressive resume and should also be in the top pack. Marianna McDonough of Cal State San Marcos is another talented runner the potential to be in the mix. Madalyne Coney of UC San Diego, who seems to be having a breakthrough season, finishes up my predictions for the top 10.
1. Chico State Wildcats
2. Cal State East Bay Pioneers
3. UC San Diego Tritons
1. Angelina Ranquillo (Cal State East Bay)
2. Talia Swangler (Chico State)
3. Destiny Everett (Chico State)
4. Luz Garcia (Cal Poly Pomona)
5. Claire Fisher (Cal State East Bay)
6. Amanda Navarro (Cal State East Bay)
7. Gracie Dupuis (Chico State)
8. Mariana McDonough (Cal State San Marcos)
9. Madalyne Coney (UC San Diego)
10. Nora Pizzella (Chico State)