Broncos cross-country moves to nationals

By Tammy Wong

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s cross country team finished strong in the National Collegiate Athletics Association Division II West Region Championships in Billings, Montana on Saturday. The Broncos weren’t used to the cold, but they placed third and qualified to go to the NCAA National Championships in December.

First-year kinesiology student Michael Gutierrez was not surprised with the team’s strong finish in the regional championships.

“I know they were strong all season, pushing hard and being on time for practice,” said Gutierrez. “The team is really strong. We run in a pack and we know we could do this together.

“The season is not over yet but we had a really good season. It was a really competitive season, but we are really impressed with our results. Now our top priority is to kill it at nationals and start getting base at track.”

The pack was led by second-year business student Mark Huizar, who finished third with a time of 30:48.89. Huizar qualified to earn All-West Region honors.

There were also three other Broncos that earned All-West Region honors. Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Brandon Haugen, third-year biology student Francisco Gomez and third-year business student Teague Senninger also qualified.

Gomez placed 17th with a time of 31:35.9, and Senninger trailed behind with a time of 31:42.17 to make 22nd. Haugen finished a few minutes shy of Senninger with a time of 31:47.28. The Dominguez brothers, John and Ruben, claimed fourth and fifth place for the team. Overall, John earned 35th place while younger brother Ruben obtained 38th place.

Second-year mechanical engineering student Troy Stechmann made an impressive finish and got 49th with a time of 32:26.02.

The men’s cross country team will return to action on Dec. 6 in Louisville, Kentucky for the NCAA Division II National Championships. Last year, the championship was held in Spokane, Washington. The men’s team placed eighth in Spokane, which is the best finish for the Broncos since 1997.

Head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett was really happy for the men’s cross-country team.

“The guys didn’t have a good race, but they have to do what they have to do,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “Not everyone had their best race, but we are getting ready for Nationals. We have to prepare academically too since it will be at the end of the quarter.”

On the women’s side, the team placed tenth and unfortunately didn’t qualify to go to Nationals.

“The women’s team has a lot of circumstances against them,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “But our women’s team is just as confident as our men’s team. I am proud of them too.”

Third-year geology student Ashley Espinoza and third-year animal science student Calene Morris were the first two from the team to finish. Espinoza crossed the line with a time of 22:37.07 and took 33rd place, while Morris followed close behind with a time of 22:40.89. taking 34th.

Fourth-year kinesiology student Lizette Huerta finished with a time of 22:48.92 and cliched the 43rd spot. This was Huerta’s last collegiate cross-country race.

The women’s team was up to the challenge, and while they won’t be going to Nationals, they finished the season strong. The men’s cross-country team now has two weeks to prepare for the national championships.

Ruben Dominguez

Hayden Yi / The Poly Post

Ruben Dominguez

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