SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Four of the Big West Conference's six 2019 Cross Country Awards went to Cal Poly on Thursday, as the Mustangs swept the Athlete of the Year plaques for the second year in a row (Jake Ritter and Miranda Daschian), Mark Conover was honored with a fourth consecutive Men's Coach of the Year accolade, and John Bennett was voted by the league's head coaches for Men's Freshman of the Year.
Daschian (a senior out of Atascadero HS and Cuesta College) joins rare company, becoming only the fourth student-athlete since 1983 to win the conference's Women's Athlete of the Year distinction in back-to-back seasons.
She repeated as Big West champion on Nov. 2, taking the title at UC Riverside with a time of 20:20.7 to move to No. 14 all-time for a 6K at Ag-Ops Course. Additionally, in the regular season, Daschian won the BWC Athlete of the Week certificate for Oct. 1 after taking fourth place at the Capital XC Challenge in Sacramento via 20:42.7.
Meanwhile Ritter (a junior from Granite Bay HS) is now the ninth individual since 1979 to be selected for the yearly award two times in a row. He joins former Mustangs Adam Boothe (1999-00), Team USA squad member Phillip Reid (2006-07) and fellow U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier Chris Frias (2012-13) on that list.
He beat the rest of the field by more than 42 seconds to go back-to-back as Big West medalist, clocking a performance of 23:43.7 next to UCR, good for No. 9 in course history for an 8K format. Earlier this fall, Ritter was also selected for conference weekly honors stemming from a victory at the Capital Challenge in Sacramento (in 24:04.1 Sept. 28).
4⃣ BWC 2019 XC Awards �� went to #CalPoly, as @CPMustangs swept Athlete of the Year plaques (Jake Ritter & Miranda Daschian), Mark Conover was honored with a 4th consecutive Coach accolade + John Bennett was voted Fr. of the Year! ��— Cal Poly TF/XC (@CalPolyTrack_XC) November 7, 2019
��️: https://t.co/kV1uAseNid ��
�� #RideHigh pic.twitter.com/pz2ANMIXoJ
Bennett is the eighth Mustang since 2005 to collect the Men's Frosh award. A Granada (Livermore) HS alum, Bennett came in seventh place at the Big West Finals, running a 24:54.0.
His season was also highlighted by a third-place individual finish at the UCSB Lagoon Open on Aug. 31, helping the Mustangs win 28-29, along with a sixth-place finish at the Riverside Invitational on Sept. 14.
For Conover, it's the 15th time since 2000 he has been named Coach of the Year specific to the men's award, and the 21st occasion altogether one of his teams has been recognized. This year's Mustangs lifted the trophy after tallying a 44-point team score, as a young squad including five redshirt freshmen in the championship lineup helped Cal Poly repeat.
With the four-peat, Cal Poly became the third contingent in 51 years to win at least four Big West championships in a row. Thursday's other awards were announced for Chloe Arriaga of UC Davis (Women's Freshman of the Year) and John Elders of CSF (Women's Coach of the Year).
The postseason continues for the Mustangs at the NCAA West Regional meet, hosted by Washington State in nearby Colfax on Friday, Nov. 15.