The California Collegiate Athletic Association has been dominated by one school for the last 15 years and it hasn’t even been close. As it sits now, it doesn’t look like there will be anyone that will unseat the Wildcats of Chico State anytime soon.
The Wildcats come into the week with the top spot in their region (West) and three other CCAA teams join them in that top 10. Cal Poly Pomona sits 4th with Cal State San Marcos at 7th and UC San Diego at 8th.
The Wildcats are always incredibly deep and it’s more of the same in 2018. After the departure of Kyle Medina, we wondered who would step up and fill the low-stick role. In the first two meets of the year, it was Eddie King who stepped into that position and did it quite well as he finished 4th at the Captial Cross Challenge and then 3rd at the Santa Clara University Bronco Invitational. He was second on his team at the UC San Diego Triton Classic, but it was apparent that they were running the race as a workout and/or time trial. King also earned an 8k PR by running 23:47 at Santa Clara, cementing his status as a legitimate low-stick.
We also saw Jason Intravaia finish two seconds behind King at Santa Clara in 5th place with a time of 23:59. Intravaia has been serving as the number two man on the year and gives the Wildcats a legitimate 1-2 punch that needs to be dealt with as we enter conference weekend. Intravaia’s 23:59 is also a PR and it’s clear that Coach Towne has will have his athletes ready to roll for their 16h straight CCAA title.
However, it's Wyatt Baxter, Jack Emanuel, Jack Johnson, and Luis Ortega that make the Wildcats so dangerous. At the Santa Clara meet, Baxter found his way into the top 10 with a 9th place finish and was just outside the 24 minute barrier.
Meanwhile, Emanuel was 11 seconds back of Baxter at 24:16 in 16th place while Johnson and Ortega were three seconds behind him at 24:19. From King to Ortega, they had a spread of 22 seconds. That’s 22 seconds between six runners, not five.
Baxter, Emanuel, Johnson, and Ortega could go anywhere else in the country and certainly be a low-stick on those teams. Instead, they have created incredible depth for a Wildcat team that is sure to win his 16th title in a row and make a bid for their first national title in history.
Cal Poly Pomona is a very underrated team as we head into conference weekend. The only issue is that they compete in the CCAA. At the Capital Cross Challenge, we saw them finish 5th as a team with only Chico State the lone D2 team that was ahead of them. On that particular day, they were led by Jeremiah Suzara in 25th place at 25:03. Alejandro Ambrosio was three seconds behind him in 28th place, giving CPP two solid guys as their first and second scorers. Eamon Smythe was 45th and Diego Arriola was 49th while Tristan Sylva capped the scoring in 63rd.
The Mustangs most recently competed at the Festival Year Fiasco just a couple weeks ago and it saw them place their scoring five all within the top 12 of the meet while taking home the team title. Smythe finished 3rd in 25:35 with Sylva and Ambrosio finishing inside the top 10. Suzara and Jonathan Woolf finished 11th and 12th, respectively to give them the win on the day.
The Cal Poly team is very young with Ambrosio and Smythe both being juniors and holding the most experience on the team. They’ll need to see a very good performance from their sophomores and freshmen in order to have success this weekend.
UC San Diego is led by Elijah Hortwitz and Tim Corvese. Both have served as the number one guy for the Tritons this year. In their biggest meet of the year (Lewis Crossover), Corvese finished 22nd and helped lead his squad to a 6th place team finish. Brett Beattie and Horwitz finished together in 35th and 36th. Jake Selstad was 46th and Noah Monroy was 62nd for the Tritons to close out the scoring.
At their home meet, they finished 4th as a team behind Cal St. San Marcos and Chico State as the other D2 teams in front of them. Corvese, Horwitz, and Beattie were once again the top three runners for the Tritons, all placing inside the top 25. Monroy was the fourth man with Samuel Blake and Burak Tufekci finishing as numbers five and six.
UC San Diego is another young team that has no seniors on their team. The Tritons finished 5th at this meet last year and will be looking to improve upon that in 2018.
Cal State San Marcos will look to build upon their 3rd place finish from 2017, although the improvements from UC San Diego and Cal Poly Pamona may be a barrier they'll have to hurdle. At the Coyote Challenge, we saw three Cougars inside the top 10, finishing 2nd to Cal Poly Pomona.
Steven Terris and Vahagn Isayan finished in 3rd and 4th place overall with times of 25:15 and 25:16. Shea Vavra was the third athlete in the top 10 as he finished in 8th place. Phillip Dorado and Mark Werley were back in 20th and 22nd to serve as numbers four and five.
At Lewis Crossover, it was four of the same athletes that served as the scorers for the Cougars. This time, Vavra had the best day as he finished in 19th and ran 25:16. Their second runner was Isayan and he finished in 49th overall, 33 seconds back of Vavra.
Werley and Dorado didn’t cross the line until 79th and 81st. The fifth runner was Kevin Lehr and he finished in 109th. The spread time here was 1:17 and while that is good when it’s looked at, it needs to be better to be competitive.
1. Chico State Wildcats
2. Cal Poly Pomona Broncos
3. UC San Diego Tritons
1. Eddie King (Chico State)
2. Jason Intravaia (Chico State)
3. Wyatt Baxter (Chico State)
4. Jack Johnson (Chico State)
5. Jack Emanuel (Chico State)