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Izzo, Jameson Lead Cal Poly to 14th, 15th at Wisconsin Pre-Nationals

Izzo, Jameson Lead Cal Poly to 14th, 15th at Wisconsin Pre-Nationals

Botten, Fitzsimmons Also Pace Mustang Cross Country at Santa Clara Invitational

MADISON, Wis. and SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Competing alongside a majority of the Top 30 teams in the country, the Cal Poly cross country program took 14th place in the women's 6k and 15th in the men's 8k on Saturday morning at the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals.

"With the nature of these types of races there are obviously a lot of great runners out there, and overall I think our whole group had a productive outing," said Mark Conover, Mustang director of track & field and cross country. "There was some great experience gained at this level, and it was a productive day all-the-way-around for both teams."

Altogether among the 141 combined teams between six sections, 39 in attendance Saturday have been nationally ranked this season.

Beginning with the women's event at the Badgers' Thomas Zimmer Championship Course (host of the NCAA Championships Nov. 17), where the temperature was in the high-30s to low-40s, the Mustangs tallied a score of 411.

Cal Poly was 26 points back of 12th-place Utah State, which came into this week ranked No. 20 in the coaches poll. New Mexico, NCAA champions in both 2015 and 2017, won with 67 points to top 10th-ranked Michigan's 120 and No. 5 Stanford's 129.

"We knew we were ready to run well, but didn't know how we might compare to some of these programs so we were happy to get in there and compete — and the team raced their hearts out," Priscilla Bayley, head coach of the Mustang women's squad, said. "It's a good sign for the end of the season. We've been getting better every week and I think this race only added more fuel to the fire. The team is really beginning to think about what they could be capable of at the end of the season."

Katie Izzo paced the Mustangs with a performance of 21:13.3, as the junior from Seal Beach took 50th place in the loaded field.

"Katie's been looking better and stronger every week," Bayley said. "She did great and we're really proud of her. She's still continuing to build momentum and that's a very promising sign."

Miranda Daschian was next for Cal Poly, finishing 61st at 21:24.1. Teammates Peyton Bilo (80th with a time of 21:37.1) and Abbey Fisk (89th in 21:41.5) also scored in the top 100. They were followed by Sierra Brill in 131st (22:07.8), Maddie McDonald taking 135th (22:10.1) and Annie Meeder 185th (22:42.2).

New Mexico sophomore Weini Kelati won the individual title with a time of 19:33.3, besting Lobo teammate Ednah Kurgat (19:45.5) at the front.

"The big theme of this weekend was momentum," Bayley added. "Everybody's starting to come on at the right time and they've been putting in a lot of hard work. We're beginning to cut back on (training distance) volume and it's starting to show in performances."

Cal Poly compiled a score of 456 in the men's event, only 33 points back of North Carolina State, which came in voted No. 26 in the coaches poll.

Back-to-back defending NCAA champions Northern Arizona claimed the team win with 41 points, beating fifth-ranked Stanford (84) and No. 11 Colorado (110).

Evan Jameson, a junior from San Diego, led the Mustangs with a 44th-place performance of 24:36.6.

"He ran a really nice race and was passing people throughout," Conover said of Jameson.

Jake Ritter added an 88th-place finish with an effort of 24:57.3. Next up for Cal Poly were Logan Marshall in 106th (via 25:06.2), Alex Merder earning 109th (25:07.9), Mikey Giguere 114th (25:11.0), Justin Robison 133rd (25:22.4) & Benjamin Holland 190th (25:53.5).

Grant Fisher of Stanford won individually with a time of 23:48.8, edging fellow senior Tyler Day of top-ranked NAU in a photo finish by one-tenth of a second.

Meanwhile, eight Mustangs also competed at the Bronco Invitational hosted by Santa Clara.

At Baylands Park northwest of the SCU campus, Cameron Botten led the Cal Poly contingent with a 17th-place 8k showing of 24:17.0. Loyola Marymount's Koby Pederson clocked a 23:57.1 for the win. Among the full teams entered, Chico State won over the hosts, 53-96.

Peter Cotsirilos posted a time of 24:22.0, good for 27th place, joined by Sean McDermott in 46th at 24:44.0 & Ethan Duffy 47th via 24:44.0.

Delaney Fitzsimmons came in 61st in the 6k, clocking a 21:38.7, ahead of teammates Hannah Hull (70th, at 21:47.2), Rachel Bordes (113th; 22:09.1) & Sydnie Rivas (137th; 22:24.0). Winny Koech of UTEP won medalist honors in 20:00.9, but Oregon State (48 points) topped the Miners along with Rice (tied with 172 points) in the team column.

Cal Poly will now prepare for the Big West Championships. The Mustang men's squad is looking to earn a three-peat this fall after claiming the conference titles in 2016 and 2017, and the women's squad is aiming to return to the top following a close second-place finish in 2017 after back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016. Two weeks of training will follow, with the championships set for Saturday, Oct. 27, at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea.