Chico State Men's Cross Country Squad Rolls at Regionals

Nov 9, 2013 8:40 PM

Sat., Nov. 9, 2013
Directors: Luke Reid and Rory Miller
Office 530-898-4658,



SPOKANE, Wash. – The Chico State men’s cross country team keeps making history. The Wildcats netted their first ever 1-2-3 finish at the NCAA West Region Championships, dismantling the field behind individualchampion Isaac Chavez’s 37-second win. He became the first ’Cat with four top-five finishes at the regional championships.

Chavez, Johnny Sanchez and Dayne Gradone were thefirst three athletes across the line. Alfonso Cisneros came in sixth, and Phil Graber completed the Wildcats’ scoring in 22nd. All five earned All-West Region honors.

Here’s what makes Chico State Head Coach Gary Towne great: he’s not satisfied.

“It was a little bit of a mixed bag,” said Towne. “We’re getting ready for the NCAA Championships and we really need to bring thingstogether. I’m happy we won the regional today, but if we race the same way at nationals we’re unlikely to bring home the hardware.”

The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in the nation entering the weekend, outraced ninth-ranked Alaska Anchorage 33-81.

With its second straight West Region title and 10th in the last 12 years, Chico State is assured a spot on the starting line at the NCAA Championships right back at the at Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex in Spokane, Wash., on Nov. 23.

Cal Poly Pomona finished third with 90 points, WesternWashington fourth (102) and Cal Baptist fifth (150) to wrap up the other three bids to be the West Regional representatives at the NCAA Championships, along with individuals Bruk Assefa of San Francisco State, Tareq Alwafai of UC San Diego and Nicolas Rifflard of Academy of Art.

The Wildcats have finished among the nation’s top 10 teams 14 years in a row. A top-four finish comes with a trophy provided by the NCAA – the hardware, Towne was speaking of.

Chavez shares his coaches’ fondness for perfection. The senior from Barstow obliterated the 130-runner field, covering the 10 kilometers in 30:55.81 in becoming the third Wildcat to win the regional title. “He looked like he was on a training run,” said a stupefied Towne.

Chavez joins Scott Bauhs (2008) and Patrick Boivin (2005) on that very short list.

“Without a doubt, if Scott Bauhs hadn’t come through our program, we’d be talking about Isaac as the best ever,” said Towne. “He’s a great one. And as is the case with all the greats, it goes beyond just puretalent with him. It’s his ability to step up in big situations. He’s got all the intangibles and it shows in his performances on the big stage.”

Sanchez and Gradone crossed the line eight seconds clear of their nearest competitor. Sanchez secured his third All-West Region accolade, finishing in 31:32.17. Gradone (31:34.58) did as well.

Cisneros was the fourth Wildcat to finish, stopping the clock in sixth place in 31:52.83.

More than 40 seconds elapsed before the next Chico State finisher, Graber, finished 22nd. California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Champion Aaron Thomas took 29th place and Alex McGuirk finished 47th.

“We were solid. We just really have to bring that pack together,” said Towne, who now has two weeks to figure out how to do just that.


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