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Cal Poly Men's XC Squad Wins UCR Invite; Brill Wins Women's Crown

Cal Poly Men's XC Squad Wins UCR Invite; Brill Wins Women's Crown

Mustangs Take 8k Victory With 43 Points; Medalist Performance Paces 3rd-Place 6k Team Score of 72

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Cal Poly won the men's 8-kilometer event as a team at the UCR Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, and Mustang junior Sierra Brill won the women's individual 6k title, highlighting the 39th annual meet at the Highlanders' Agricultural Ops Course.

Starting the morning off with the Women's Invite, Brill won with a time of 20 minutes, 20.88 seconds — edging senior teammate Peyton Bilo by only 2.9 seconds (20:23.77) at the front, in a pairing of two former Big West Freshman of the Year award-winners.

Cal Poly added two more runners in the top 25: true freshman Aimee Armstrong in 24th at 21:16.09 and junior Angela DiPentino 25th at 21:18.44. Annie Meeder rounded out the Mustang scoring card, as the junior took 27th via 21:23.20.

Also for the Mustangs, Misty Diaz came in 32nd at 21:31.34, Sydnie Rivas was 44th (21:47.20), and Lexi Watkins took 54th (21:57.51).

Cal Baptist won the team crown with 32 points, followed by Southern Utah scoring 54, and then the Mustangs in third place among the 19 schools in the field, with 72 points.

Then in the 8k Invite Division, the Mustangs won with a team score of 43 — 45 points up on second-place Cal Baptist for the victory, while UC Santa Barbara came in third out of the 24 programs in attendance, with 97 points.

For Cal Poly and UCSB, it was the second consecutive meet to start the regular season featuring a Blue-Green Rivalry-tinted clash at the front. Nick Randazzo claimed top individual honors for the Gauchos with an effort of 24:01.85, just ahead of Jake Ritter, defending conference champion, at 24:08.39.

The Mustangs' depth shined, led by four redshirt freshmen accounting for the rest of the first-place score: John Bennett in sixth place (in 24:27.79); Elias Opsahl also in the top 10, taking ninth via 24:35.69; Anthony Benitez in 16th (24:41.80); and Will Fallini-Haas 18th (24:44.93).

True freshman Will Sheaffer added a 55th-place 25:21.63 in his debut at the course, while Chas Cook, who helped the Mustangs win the conference title at the same location in the fall of 2017, recorded a 69th-place 25:43.57.

Afterward, several Mustangs competed in the Open Sections of the meet.

Competing on an unattached basis, freshman Kaia Hoak ran a fifth-place 5k of 17:39.6, and Peyton Candaele also entered in a non-scoring capacity, taking 38th at 19:09.1. Redshirt freshman Anna Hicks clocked a 19:29.7, good for 57th.

Brett Knutson paced three Mustang student-athletes unattached in the Open 8k, earning ninth place in 25:56.3, ahead of Manny Guzman (15th; 26:13.9) & Cole Gamble (18th; 26:16.64), also unscored. Cal Poly redshirt freshman Brett Hickman took 13th place, running a 26:09.9.

In the preseason coaches polls released three weeks ago, both Mustang squads were ranked within the Top 8 of the Western Region. New regional polls will be announced by the USTFCCCA on Monday. Later on this fall, it'll be the 12th time Riverside has hosted the Big West Championships, as the Highlanders will welcome the conference back to Ag. Ops. Course on Nov. 2.

Up next, Cal Poly trains for the Capital Cross Challenge, held at Arcade Creek Course in Sacramento. The collegiate portion of the meet gets underway at 9:50 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28.