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THE COLLEGES : COLLEGE CROSS-COUNTRY / BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIPS : UCI Women's Team Wins Conference Title Going Away

October 29, 1995|MATT FARMER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

HUNTINGTON BEACH — The UC Irvine women's cross-country team dominated the Big West Conference Championships on Saturday at Central Park.

Not only did the Anteater women win their record 10th title, they also came away with an individual winner for the 10th time in the conference meet's 13-year history.

Led by senior Jo-Jo Yaba's victory, the Anteaters scored 38 points, 10 better than defending champion UC Santa Barbara. Hawaii finished third with 116.

The victory also marked the first conference title for UC Irvine since the men's tennis team won a title in 1993.

The meet also had special significance for Yaba.

Yaba avenged a one-second loss in last season's meet to Nevada's Rochelle Hair, winning the race by a convincing 18-second margin over runner-up Eliza Alexander of UC Santa Barbara.

Yaba assumed the race's lead in the second mile, distancing herself from Alexander and teammate Laura Monson before cruising to victory in 17 minutes 58 seconds.

Alexander, a Tustin graduate, ran 18:16 for second place, and Diana Cervantes of Hawaii (18:27), Monson (18:27) and Walsh of Utah State (18:28) rounded out the top five finishers.

"[Our goal] was to work as a team," Yaba said. "The whole race I kept yelling, 'Irvine, Irvine, Irvine.' Our goal was to get [the conference championship] back this season. Now we have it back where it belongs."

Said UC Irvine Coach Vince O'Boyle: "Jo-Jo is a big-time performer. She rises to the big stuff." O'Boyle was named the women's conference coach of the year for the 10th time.

Playing host to the meet has proven advantageous for the Anteaters, as the men's and women's squads were victorious in 1987, the last such occasion.

"Having the meet be at home can help and hurt at the same time," O'Boyle said. "They really got hyped up being at home today."

UC Santa Barbara's men weren't at home, but it didn't keep the team from winning its second conference title and the first since 1979.

Gaucho senior Brad Glosser won the individual title, running the five-mile course in 25:21, 22 seconds ahead of teammate Dave Cullum.

UC Santa Barbara had 24 points, placing five runners among the race's top eight finishers. Defending champion Utah State finished second (35), followed by UC Irvine (75) and Cal State Fullerton (100).

"I'm proud of Glosser. He's always been a team guy more than for himself," said Gaucho Coach Pete Dolan, who was voted conference men's coach of the year for the first time.

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