2003 Season Archive

Day Date Meet Time Place
Sat. Sep. 13 Aggie Invitational 10am Davis, CA
Sat. Sep. 27 Stanford Invitational 4pm Palo Alto, CA
Sat. Oct. 4 Wilamette Invitational 9am Salem, OR
Sat. Oct. 11 Sierra College Invite 10 am Rocklin, CA
Sat. Oct. 25 CCAA Championships
men's results
women's results
9:30 am CHICO, CA
Sat. Nov. 8 West Region Championships 10 am Pomona, CA
Sat. Nov. 22 NCAA Championships 12 pm Raleigh, NC

Wildcats bring home the hardware!

Chico State men and women both finish fourth at NCAA Championships in North Carolina
CARY, NC - The Chico State cross country programs did what they've talked about all season...They brought home the hardware . Both teams finished fourth at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships held at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.

The goal for both teams this season was to finish as one of the top four teams in the nation and bring home a trophy, which are only given to the top four spots.

The fourth place finish is the best in school history for the women's program and on the men's side, second only to a third-place finish by the 1969 squad. Both teams finished fifth last year.

The quest for the hardware was a battle for the men's squad which just beat out Western State by three points for the coveted fourth-place spot. Adams State won the event with 40 points, followed by Abilene Christian (68 points), Harding (86 points), Chico State (147 points), and Western State (150 points).

It is the men's sixth top-ten finish in the last nine years.

Sophomore Patrick Boivin (31:35.3) led the men's squad with a 15th overall finish and took home All-American honors for the second straight year. Senior Tyler Graff (31:44.1), who is the first Chico State runner to compete in four NCAA Championships, also took home All-American honors with a 20th-place finish. Sophomore Joel Martinez (32:08.6) also received All-American status, finishing 27th overall.

Senior Vernon Ruiz (32:44.0) was the fourth scorer for Chico State, finishing 43th and freshman Charlie Serrano (33:03.9) rounded out the Wildcats' scoring with his 57st-place finish.

Steven Springhorn (34:24.0) finished 109th and Chris Layman (34:24.5) was 110th out of the 176-runner field.

In the women's race, Chico (201 points) ended with a comfortable 63-point advantage over fifth place Harding (264 points). Adams State (38 points) also won the women's championship, followed by Western State (101 points) and Grand Valley State (143 points).

Junior Missy Lendl (22:11.5) put in another tremendous performance for the 'Cats, finishing 18th overall to earn All-American honors. Sophomore Kelly Ortlieb (22:34.4) finished 36th overall and also attained All-American status. Lendl and Ortlieb's All-American honors are the first ever for the Chico State women's cross country program.

Senior Margaret Pridgen (22:57.0) was the third Wildcat finisher, coming in 46th, freshman Sarah Montez (23:31.9) finished 83rd, and junior Katie Lee (23:39.1) finished 90th overall to round out the Wildcat scoring.

Jennifer James (23:58.5) finished 104th and Laura Cohen (24:19.7) was 130th out of the 189 runners.

The women's program has finished in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships six of the last seven years.

Wildcats dominate the West!
Chico State cross country teams cruise to West Region Championships
CHINO - The Chico State cross country programs proved why they have been ranked No. 1 in the West all season. Both the men's and women's squads easily beat the competition to take home the West Region titles and advance to the NCAA Division II Championships on November 22 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It was the first West Region championship in the history of the program for the women. The men's team won its second straight title.

Chico State dominated the regional. The Wildcat men won with just 28 points, easily besting runner-up UC San Diego's 79 points, third-place Cal Poly Pomona's 91 points and fourth-place Western Washington's 105 points. All four teams will advance to the national championships.

On the women's side, the top-ranked Wildcats finished with only 38 points and had a whopping 86-point advantage over second-place UC San Diego's total of 124. Cal State Stanislaus locked up the third and final team berth for the women, edging Alaska Anchorage by just one point, 176-177.

In the men's race, William Ngetich, a sophomore from Hawaii Pacific, won with a time of 31:40.5 over the 10,000-meter course at Prado Park. Chico State's Tyler Graff, the CCAA individual champion, was second at 31:48.8. Cal Poly Pomona took the third and fourth spots with Daniel Rojas' 31:56.6 and Mark Batres' 32:07.1.

The Wildcats claimed the 5th -8th spots to wrap up the dominating team performance: Patrick Boivin was fifth at 32:17.6; Charlie Serrano took sixth at 32.35.4; Joel Martinez finish seventh at 32:37.1; and Chris Layman was eighth at 32:37.5.

Ngetich and Douglas Hamilton of Humboldt State, who finished 10th in 32:42.6 advance to the national championships as individuals.

In the women's race, Chelsea Smith of BYU Hawaii was an impressive winner in 20:54.3 over Prado Parks 6,000 meter course. She won by 55 seconds over second-place finisher Nina Christensen of Hawaii Pacific, who finished in 21:49.9. Sarah Bouchard of Cal State L.A. was third in 22:00.8, Missy Lendl of Chico State was fourth in 22:16.9 and Laura Trevellyan of Western Washington was fifth in 22:22.0.

Smith, Christensen, Bouchard and Trevellyan advance as individuals to the national championships along with the teams from Chico State, UC San Diego and Cal State Stanislaus.

Just as they did in the men's race, Chico State packed five runners into the Top 10 in the women's race. Margaret Pridgen was seventh in 22:30.9, Kelly Ortlieb was eighth in 22:34.0, Sarah Montez was ninth in 22:48.8 and Katie Lee was 10th in 22:50.1.

The top 15 in both races receive All-Region honors.

NCAA Division II West Regional
At Prado Park, Hosted by Cal Poly Pomona

Men 10,000 Meters

Team scores (Top four advance to NCAA Championships): 1. Chico State 28; 2. UC San Diego 79; 3. Cal Poly Pomona 91; 4. Western Washington 105; 5. Alaska Anchorage 147; 6. Humboldt State 182; 7. Western Oregon, Hawaii Pacific 214; 9. BYU Hawaii, Saint Martins 262; 11. Seattle University 269; 12. Central Washington 283; 13. Northwest Nazarene 302; 14. Hawaii Hilo 376; 15. Chaminade 425; 16. San Francisco State 453; 17. Montana State Billings 513.

Individuals (Top 15 Earn All-Region Honors): 1. William Ngetrich (Hawaii Pacific) 31:40.5; 2. Tyler Graff (Chico State) 31:48.8; 3. Daniel Rojas (Cal Poly Pomona) 31:56.6; 4. Mark Batres (Cal Poly Pomona) 32:07.1; 5. Patrick Boivin (Chico State) 32:17.1; 6. Charlie Serrano (Chico State) 32:35.4; 7. Joel Martinez (Chico State) 32:37.1; 8. Christopher Layman (Chico State) 32:37.5; 9. Robert Eap (UC San Diego) 32:38.2; 10. Douglas Hamilton (Humboldt State) 32:42.6; 11. Brian Brancheau (Western Washington) 32:43.6; 12. Chase Wells (Western Oregon) 32:45.5; 13. Brandon Stum (Alaska Anchorage) 32:47.0; 14. Julian Nahan (UC San Diego) 32:48.0; 15. Kurt Hartmaier (Western Washington) 32:48.3.

Women 6,000 Meters

Team Scores (Top three advance to NCAA Championships): 1. Chico State 38; 2. UC San Diego 124; 3. Cal State Stanislaus 176; 4. Alaska Anchorage 177; 5. Seattle Pacific 209; 6. Central Washington 219; 7. Western Washington 242; 8. Cal State Dominguez Hills 275; 9. Hawaii Pacific 278; 10. Seattle University 292; 11. Sonoma State 321; 12. Cal Poly Pomona 326; 13. Western Oregon 358; 14. Cal State San Bernardino 403; 15. Hawaii Hilo 405; 16. Humboldt State 412; 17. Cal State Bakersfield 431; 18. BYU Hawaii 441; 19. Cal State L.A. 478; 20. Northwest Nazarene 510; 21. Saint Martins 525; 22. Chaminade 546; 23. Montana State-Billings 549; 24. San Francisco State 609.

Individuals (Top 15 Earn All-Region Honors): 1. Chelsea Smith (BYU Hawaii) 20:54.3; 2. Nina Christensen (Hawaii Pacific) 21:49.9; 3. Sarah Bouchard (Cal State L.A.) 22:00.8; 4. Missy Lendl (Chico State) 22:16.9; 5. Laura Trevellyan (Western Washington) 22:22.0; 6. Tina Firouz (UC San Diego) 22:25.5; 7. Margaret Pridgen (Chico State) 22:30.9; 8. Kelly Ortlieb (Chico State) 22:34.0; 9. Sarah Montez (Chico State) 22:48.8; 10. Katie Lee (Chico State) 22:50.1; 11. Janine Brown (Hawaii Pacific) 22:50.4; 12. Jamie Witt (Seattle Pacific) 22:51.7; 13. Stephanie Holley (Cal State Stanislaus) 22:54.3; 14. Tanya Zeferjahn (Cal State San Bernardino) 22:57.9; 15. Chandra Farnam (Sonoma State) 23:01.6.

Wildcats prepare to compete at West Regional
Now that the dust has settled and the celebrating of the men's and women's CCAA cross country championships is complete, both teams are back at work preparing for the West Regionals to be held this Saturday, Nov. 8 at Prado Park in Chino Hills. Cal Poly Pomona is hosting the event. Starting times are 9:00 for the women and 10:00 for the men.

Both Chico State squads are ranked No. 4 in the latest national poll and No. 1 in the West region. The Wildcat men enter the regional as the defending champion, while the women will be shooting for their first regional team title, after finishing second at last year's competition.

Athletes from all across the West will participate in the regional, with the top three women's and top four men's squads advancing to the NCAA championship event to be held in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Nov. 22.

Chico State successfully defends CCAA Cross Country titles at home
- Men place nine among the top 15, women place six
CHICO, Calif. – Chico State started strong and never looked back in defending its team titles at the 2003 California Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Bidwell Park.

The Wildcat men, ranked 4th nationally in NCAA Division II, produced nine top-15 finishes to easily top runner-up Cal Poly Pomona (27 to 49) and claim its second CCAA crown in as many years. Chico’s women, ranked 5th nationally, were just as dominant, as five Wildcats finished among the top 15 en route to its second straight CCAA title with a 28 to 73 margin over runner-up UC San Diego.

Senior Tyler Graff won the CCAA Men’s Individual Championship with an 8,000-meter course-record time of 24:21.8, four seconds ahead of 2nd-place Daniel Rojas (24:25.4) of Cal Poly Pomona. Graff also earned CCAA Men’s Runner of the Year honors for his effort. Defending CCAA Champion Mark Batres of Pomona finished 3rd (24:34.6) while UC San Diego’s Neil Kalra took 4th (24:37.7).

Chico then took the next six places, as Patrick Boivin, Beau Bettinger, Vernon Ruiz, Steven Springhorn, Joel Martinez and Charlie Serrano finished in succession. Rounding out the All-CCAA squad were UC San Diego’s Robert Eap, Chico’s Chris Layman and Antonio Miramontes, and Pomona’s Daniel Cerecerez and James Tawney. The top 15 finishers comprise the 2003 All-CCAA team.

UC San Diego’s Steve Vargas (23rd – 26:10.0) received CCAA Freshman of the Year honors and Cal Poly Pomona coach Jim Sackett was named Coach of the Year.

Cal State L.A. sophomore Sarah Bouchard became the second Golden Eagle in as many years to win the CCAA Women’s Individual Championship and earn CCAA Women’s Runner of the Year honors, completing the 6,000-meter course in 21:21.6. Bouchard came in 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Katie Lee (21:40.6) of Chico State.

Chico’s Missy Lendl finished 3rd (21:50.7), and UC San Diego’s Tina Firouz (22:02.6) finished 4th. The head coaches named Firouz CCAA Freshman of the Year following the meet.

Rounding out the top 10 were Chico’s Margaret Pridgen (5th – 22:10.7) and Kelly Ortlieb (22:15.1), Cal State Bakersfield’s Ryan Mayfield (22:16.8), Cal State L.A.’s Annmarie Housen (22:19.5), Cal State Dominguez Hills’ Jenny Buncio (22:22.1) and UCSD’s Lindsay Stalker (22:24.3).

Other All-CCAA honorees, finishing 11th through 15th, were Cal State Stanislaus’ Stephanie Holley, Chico’s Kristy Cangiamilla, Cal State Dominguez Hills’ Alejandra Contreras, Pomona’s Christina Jimenez, and Chico’s Jennifer James.

Coach Gary Towne received CCAA Coach of the Year honors for leading the ‘Cats to their second straight championship.
Men's complete results
Women's complete results

Wildcats to host CCAA Cross Country Championships
Chico State is hosting the 2003 CCAA Cross Country championships Saturday, October 25, at the One Mile Recreation Area at Bidwell Park. Race time for the men's 8k event is 9 a.m. The women's 6k run will begin at 10 a.m.

The Chico State men's and women's squads look to defend their two CCAA crowns earned last year. Both squads are ranked No. 1 in the West region and in the top five in the nation in the latest NCAA polls. UC San Diego, which is ranked No. 2 in the West region for both men's and women's, will have their sights set on upsetting the favored Wildcats. Cal Poly Pomona's men's team and the CSU Stanislaus women could surprise the higher-ranked squads, as each are very talented.

In the men's race defending champion Mark Batres from Cal Poly Pomona returns as the favorite. Batres won the CCAA title as a true freshman last fall. His teammate Daniel Rojas who has a 5k PR of 14:18 will also be a factor in the individual race. Despite losing last year's CCAA individual runner-up, Chris Eggers, due to recent knee surgery, the Chico State men's team fields two solid threats to the individual title. Tyler Graff and Patrick Boivin will lead the Chico charge up front as they have most of the season. Both have shown that they can run with very fast company during the course of the season. Both finished in the top 15 overall at the Stanford Invitational, well ahead of all other Non-Division I athletes, and the two placed first and second overall at the most recent Willamette Invitational, easily besting all D-I times for the day. The race for the individual men's title should be an exciting one

The battle for the women's individual honor should be another great race. Cal State Los Angeles is not necessarily a threat for the team title, but they have two strong threats for the individual title. Anne Marie Housen, a Jamaican from New York, tops the list. Housen easily won the CCAA title last year in her freshman season and went on to win the West region title, and eventually became an All-American with her top-10 finish at the NCAA championships. However, Housen has not yet become the best runner on her own team. Kennesaw State transfer Sarah Bouchard, a sophomore. from Manchester, England, has been the number-one runner for the Golden Eagles at each meet this fall. Bouchard has won several races this season, including the West Region preview meet, in which she and Housen took the top two places.

Chico also has a legitamete contender for the individual title in Katie Lee. Lee, who has won two of the three races she has entered this season, has two years of experience in the CCAA and has logged up to 80 miles a week in preparation for Saturday's big race. Lee owns three school records on the track and is a two-time All American. The Wildcats also have two more contenders in Margaret Pridgen, who finished third at last year's CCAA Championship, and Missy Lendl, who finished second overall behind teammate Lee at the Willamette Invitational two weeks ago.

The awards ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. All-CCAA awards will be presented to the top 15 runners in each race. Team awards will be given to the winning men's and women's squad.

Wildcats show depth in Rocklin
Resting their top 10 women and top 12 men, the Chico State men's and women's cross country teams still made strong showings at the Sierra Invitational Saturday. True freshman Oscar Uribe finished 9th in a stacked four-mile men's race, while Dallase Scott was the top Chico State competitor in the 8,000-meter women's race, finishing 21st.

The race is a PA USATF cross country series race and features mostly post-collegiate particpants who run for various running clubs from across the state. However, CCAA foes Cal State Stanislaus, Sonoma State, and San Francisco State also fielded full teams.

Women's individual results:
1. Eeron Arlin Genet Reebok Aggies 18:02
2. Rose Marie Lagunas Woolfpack Int. Club 18:34
3. Christine Olen Reebok 18:35
21. Dallase Scott Chico State 20:04
28. Monique Silva Chico State 20:21
34. Alicia Wiley Chico State 20:35
44. Aisha Kamala Unnat/Chico 21:04
51. Christie Wilhelms Unnat/Chico 21:24
58. Nancy Cavaletto Unnat/Chico 21:36
66. Kellie Stephens Unnat/Chico 22:26

Men's Individual Results:
1. Aaron Moody Team Eugene 20:22
2. Kevin Pierpoint Aggies 20:29
3. Tim Miller HTC 20:35
4. Ryan Miller Aggies 20:39
5. Konrad Knutsen Adidas 20:41
6. Mark Pilja Unnat 20:44
7. Paul Welman Hoys 20:46
8. Eric Gans Aggies 20:50
9. Oscar Uribe Unnat/Chico 20:50
10. David Lopez Aggies 20:52
11. JT Service Aggies 20:59 '02
12. Daren Salmi Aggies 21:05
19. Matt Faulkner Unnat/Chico 21:29
20. Kyle Ivie Unnat/Chico 21:31
21. Shea Rollin Unnat/Chico 21:32
24. Juan Ceja Chico State 21:43
30. Tim Tollefson Unnat/Chico 21:53
33. Ernesto Hernandez Chico State 22:05
50. Shankar Tillotson Unnat/Chico 23:09
51. David Ignacio Chico State 23:12
56. Nick Clinton Unnat/Chico 23:40

Patrick Boivin named CCAA Runner of the Week
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Chico State’s Patrick Boivin has been named the California Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for the week of September 29 through October 5.

Boivin, a sophomore from Rocklin, finished 2nd to teammate Tyler Graff at the Willamette Invitational collegiate race, completing the 8,000-meter course in 24:16.25 to help the Wildcats win the 26-team competition.

Katie Lee named CCAA Runner of the Week
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Chico State’s Katie Lee has been named the California Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for the week of September 29-Oct. 6.

Lee, a junior from Danville, won the Willamette Invitational collegiate race with a personal best time to lead the Wildcats to the team championship ahead of 26 other teams. She completed the 5,000-meter course in 17:48.29.

Lee, Graff lead Chico squads to victory
WILLAMETTE, Ore. – The Chico State University men's and women's cross country teams smashed the competition to win both sides of the Willamette Invitational Saturday.

Katie Lee and Missy Lendl finished first and second, respectively, to lead the women to victory. Meanwhile, Tyler Graff and Patrick Boivin took the first two spots to lead the Wildcat men to another win.

The women's 42-point total was easily enough to beat second-place UC San Diego, which finished with 75. The men outdistanced runner-up Eastern Oregon 45-58.

After Lee, who finished more than five seconds ahead of the pack at 17:48 over the 5K course, the race was relatively close. Margaret Pridgen grabbed 11th for the Wildcats in 18:14, while Kelly Ortlieb finished 13th in 18:17. Finishing out the scoring for the Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in the Nation and No. 1 in the West Region entering the weekend, was Laura Cohen in 15th in 18:19.

Graff and Boivin finished the 8K men's course in 24:15.97 and 24:16.25, respectively. Other scorers for the Wildcats, also ranked No. 4 in the Nation and No. 1 in the West Region, included Chris Layman (12th, 24:53), Vernon Ruiz (13th, 24:54) and Charlie Serrano (17th, 25:00).

Chico State next competes at the Sierra College Invite on Oct. 11 before hosting the CCAA Cross Country Championship Oct. 25 in Bidwell Park.
Complete results...

Wildcats top D-II finishers at Stanford
STANFORD - The Chico State Cross Country team competed at the prestigious Stanford Invite on Saturday and finished as the top Division II team in each race in which they scored.
Complete results...

In the men's 8k race, Chico's Patrick Boivin finished eighth overall to led the team to a third-place finish. The only teams to beat the Wildcats was the top D-I team in the nation, Stanford, and No. 24 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

3. 92 CHICO STATE (24:56 124:38) ===================================
1. 8 Patrick Boivin SO 24:33
2. 10 Steven Springhorn JR 24:36
3. 13 Tyler Graff SR 24:39
4. 26 Chris Layman JR 25:18
5. 35 Vernon Ruiz SR 25:32
6. ( 62) Antonio Miramontes FR 26:14
7. ( 67) Zachary Tarver JR 26:20

In the men's short race, which covered a 4k course, Chico finished fifth overall led by Joel Martinez, who finished 17 overall.

5. 139 CHICO STATE (13:01 65:03) ===================================
1. 17 Joel Martinez SO 12:32
2. 21 Beau Bettinger FR 12:36
3. 30 Ernesto Hernandez FR 13:08
4. 35 Blaine Ashley SR 13:23
5. 36 Juan Ceja JR 13:24
6. ( 38) David Ignacio FR 13:32

In the women's 5k event, Margret Prdgen led the Wildcats to their first top-ten finish ever at the Stanford Invite. Chico State edged out long-time rival UC Davis by one point.

7. 256 CHICO STATE (23:00 114:57) ===================================
1. 35 Margret Pridgen SR 22:34
2. 39 Katie Lee JR 22:38
3. 59 Missy Lendl JR 23:14
4. 61 Sarah Montez FR 23:15
5. 62 Laura Cohen JR 23:16
6. ( 89) Jennifer James SO 23:49

In the women's 4k Chico State did not score as a team due to the fact that one runner did not have on her assigned number. Following are the times of Chico's four runners:

33 Holly Root FR 15:46
38 Kristi Cangiamilla SR 16:01
40 Dallase Scott SO 16:07
46 Monique Silva SR 16:17

Both squads ranked No. 4 in the nation
The Chico State men's cross country team moved up a spot in the NCAA rankings after the weekend's perfect score at the Aggie Invitational. Now both Wildcat squads are ranked No. 4 in the nation, as the women maintained their position from the prvious week. Top 5 rankings for each are listed below:

1. Western State (Colorado)
2. Abiline Christian (Texas)
3. Adams State (Colorado)
4. Cal State Chico
5. South Dakota State U.

1. Western State (CO)
2. Adams State (CO)
3. Grand Valley State (Mich)
4. Cal State Chico
5. Northern Michigan

Graff named CCAA Runner of the Week
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- CHICO STATE’s Tyler Graff has been named the California Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for the week of Sept. 9-14.

Graff, a senior from Flower Mound, Texas, finished 1st among collegians at the UC Davis Aggie Open last week, completing the 8,000-meter course in 24:58.60. He led the Wildcats to a 1st-place team finish out of eight teams.

Lee leads women; Men dominate field
DAVIS - Katie Lee won the women's portion and the Chico State men took the top six spots at the 2003 Aggie Open Saturday at UC Davis.

Lee finished the 5,000-meter run in 18:19.9 to help the Chico State women to a second-place finish. Missy Lendl (18:43) finished fifth among Division II competitors, Margaret Pridgen (18:56) finished ninth, Laura Cohen (19:09) grabbed the 17th position, and Sarah Montez (19:17) finished 21st.

The Wildcat women finished with 53 points and just got nipped by UC Davis with 48.

On the men's side, it wasn't even close.Among Division II runners over the 8,000-meter course, Chico State's Tyler Graff (24:58), Steven Springhorn (25:06), Vernon Ruiz (25:35), Patrick Boivin (25:35), Chris Layman (25:47), and Antonio Miramontes (25:51) finished first through sixth. Zachary Tarver (9th, 26:05) and Joel Martinexz (13th, 26:35) also ran very well.

The Wildcats hammered the field, defeating second-place UC Davis 15-48.
Complete Results

Wildcats ranked in nation's top five
The first national rankings have been released and both the men's and women's cross country teams are among the top five Division II teams in the nation. Both Wildcats squads finished fifth at the National Chamionships last fall in Ashland, Ohio.

Men's Rankings Women's Rankings
1. Western State College 1. Western State College
2. Abilene Christian Univeristy 2. Adams State College
3. Adams State College 3. Grand Valley State
4. South Dakota State 4. Chico State
5. Chico State 5. Northern Michigan

The only other CCAA teams in the men's ranking are No. 12 UC San Diego and No. 16 Cal Poly Pomona. The UC San Diego women are ranked 16th.

Both squads are ranked No. 1 in the West region. UC San Diego is ranked second in both the men's and women's polls.

The Wildcats open the 2003 season with the Aggie Invitational, Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10:00.

Wildcats geared up for 2003 season
The pressure is on! Granted, most of the pressure is coming from the team itself, but the Chico State cross country programs don’t plan to sit on last year’s fifth place finishes at the Division II National Championships. The goal, as it is every year, is to continue to improve and challenge for the top spot in the nation.

The toughest part of head coach Gary Towne’s job this season is not going to be bringing in quality athletes, it’s deciding who of his stable of runners he’ll put on the line each week.

“This is the best group of runners, men and ladies, we’ve ever had coming into a season,” said Towne. “We could, on paper, have two top-three teams in the nation.”

Since coach Towne took over the program eight years ago, the men’s squad has had two standard goals. One is to finish in the top four in the nation and the other, the ultimate goal, is to win a national title. It’s the same philosophy they have had entering every season, and this one is no different.

The men’s cross country program returns all but one if its seven team members, which finished fifth at last year’s national championship. It was the highest finish ever by a men’s team, but the team couldn’t help but be a tad disappointed. With the talent and depth they brought to the championship, they were hoping for a top-three finish and to bring home the prestigious hardware that goes along with it.

The Wildcats return two “All-Everything” runners in junior Chris Eggers and sophomore Patrick Boivin. Both took home all-CCAA, all-Region, and all-America honors last season. Four other members of the squad that competed at nationals also return: senior Vernon Ruiz, junior Matt Faulkner, junior Chris Layman, and sophomore Joel Martinez. Faulkner and Ruiz each received all-CCAA and all-Region honors last year.

The depth of the men’s returning squad doesn’t stop there. All-CCAA runner junior Steven Springhorn will be back, along with three talented freshman redshirts. Charlie Serrano, Antonio Miramontes, and Beau Bettinger each had impressive credentials coming to Chico State last year and now have a year’s experience training with the squad.

A big plus for the Wildcats is the return of senior Tyler Graff, who used his redshirt season last year. Graff, who brings additional national championship experience to the team, is a two-time all-Region runner and the two-time CCAA champion in the 5,000 meters on the track.

“Any one of these guys on a given day could be our conference champion,” said Towne. “We’ve got a lot of national competition experience in our returners and having the depth is great, but to be in the top three in the nation we’ll still need to count on a handful of our top runners to stay healthy and competitive throughout the season.”

To add to the excitement of these 11 talented returners, the usually reserved coach Towne is not afraid to state that this year’s recruiting class is his best ever. Kyle Ivie from Burbank High School was a finalist at the state cross country meet and is the fastest recruit on paper Towne has signed. Miguel and Oscar Uribe are twins from Grace Davis High School in Modesto. The two bring impressive credentials and stand at an impressive 6-foot, 3-inches. Shea Rollins from Patrick Henry High School in San Diego rounds out the newcomers.

Despite the talents of these first-year freshmen, and due to the depth of this year’s returning team, it will not be a surprise if all four freshmen redshirt this first year as they adjust to new training schedules and techniques and make the transition into a college environment.

The women’s team certainly doesn’t lack for experience at the national level. The women also finished fifth in the nation, giving the combined Chico State cross country program its best showing in the school’s history. The 2002 women won their first ever CCAA Championship and had six of their seven runners finish among the top 15 to receive all-CCAA honors.

Chico State returns five of the seven runners who competed at last year’s national championship. Margaret Pridgen, who returns for her final season, was the Wildcats’ top finisher at both the conference championship, earning all-CCAA honors, and the national championship. Joining her is the highly decorated junior, Katie Lee, who received both all-CCAA and all-West honors in cross country, and received all-America status on the track, finishing second in the nation at the 10,000 meter distance. Lee won the CCAA track titles in the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters and broke three school distance records throughout the year.

Juniors Missy Lendl and Lindsay Kuehn both return with national championship experience. Lendl was the Wildcats’ second finisher at the prestigious national event last year, and Kuehn earned all-America status last spring in the steeplechase, finishing fourth in the nation.

This season’s group of veterans will be accompanied by two true freshmen from last year’s squad. Jennifer James was the third-place finisher for the Wildcats at nationals, and Kelly Ortlieb was running as Chico State’s number-three runner before suffering a season-ending calf injury.

Paige Osborn, who was the team’s top runner at nationals in 2000 and an all-Region and all-CCAA runner that year, looks to return for her junior year. Osborn has been plagued by injury. She redshirted the 2001 season due to injury and ran in only one race last year before another injury forced her out of competition for the second straight year.

Rounding out the set of talented returners is fifth-year senior Kristi Cangiamilla, whose hard work and dedication to her sport is a great example for her up-and-coming teammates.

To complement the returners, Towne has brought in a freshman with the fastest times of any recruit he has ever had in the program. Sarah Montez competed at Royal High School in Simi Valley where she was an all-state cross country runner finishing sixth in the state, and a state meet finalist in the two mile event on the track. Montez has the chance to be one of the team’s top-five runners as a true freshman.

Also joining the team is Division I redshirt Holly Root. Root attended UC Irvine last year after completing her high school career at Mission High School in Fremont.

On paper the Wildcat cross country teams are loaded with talent and experience, but Coach Towne and his squads know they cannot rest on that. Now is when the real work begins as they train for another shot at a national title.