April 5, 2007

Broncos At Johnny Mathis Invitational This Weekend

April 5, 2007

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - This weekend the Santa Clara track and field team will head to San Francisco, Calif. to participate in the 26th Johnny Mathis Invitational hosted by San Francisco State. The Broncos will look to build on their successes so far in 2007.

"Things are really starting to come together," said head coach Tom Service. "They say winning is infectious and we're starting to catch it. Shanthi Blanchard ran a lifetime best 4:55 on Friday and Veronica [Vazquez] had run in the heat right before her and said to me `I just got so excited watching her!'. It's like everybody is jumping on board out there and there's a real positive attitude and a realization that all of our workouts are paying off."

And it's paying off across the board for the Broncos. In addition to Vazquez setting a school record with her 4:42.68 performance in the women's 1500 meters Friday at the Cal-Nevada Championships, she was the only Bronco to qualify for finals. Last month at the Aggie Track & Field Open, Mike Delaurenti won the men's 3000 meter steeplechase, breaking his own school record with a time of 9:34.36.

"A lot of the guys' training has put emphasis on peaking at the end of the year, and they are right on track," said Service. "Mike D [elaurenti] posted a good 5k time this weekend at Stanford, and Stephen [Koch] has run three steeplechases in a row and has improved in every one of them. Good things are happening."

The steeplechase is a unique event, usually 3000 meters, in which athletes must overcome 28 barriers as well as seven water jumps.

"It's not quite like hurdling because if you hit the hurdle, the hurdle falls down," Service explained. "In the steeplechase, if you hit the barrier, YOU go down!"

The Broncos seem to have identified three great steeplechasers in Danielle Miller, Delaurenti and Koch. In addition to Delaurenti's win last month, Miller finished third in her heat this past week at the Cal-Nevada Championships with a time of 11:35.50, good for ninth overall. Koch also finished ninth overall with a time of 9:44.43.

"The steeplechase is quite challenging," Service said. "I think it's an event with a lot of opportunity because it's not an event that every distance runner can do. You have to be an athlete AND a runner and not all runners are athletes. But adding these events makes it exciting for the whole team. We used to go to meets where we only participated in a few events. Now we have Joanna [Gistand] hurdling, George [Sanchez] is running the 100, and Ryan [Ward] is doing the long jump and running the 200."

The women's distance program is thriving as well, as junior Adriane Puetz and freshman Annie Murphy-Hagan go after the record books. At the Hornet Invitational two weeks ago, Puetz led the Broncos in the women's 3000 meters with a fifth place finish, just one one-hundredth shy of Shannon Bell's record 10:27.12, set back in 2006. Murphy-Hagan was just 0.48 seconds behind.

"Adriane has really had a breakout track season," Service said. "As a freshman running cross, she really exceeded expectations. These past two years, she has never lost faith. She's kept with it and now it's paying off big time."

Looking ahead to this weekend, the Broncos will travel up the peninsula for the Johnny Mathis Invitational, hosted by San Francisco State University at Cox Stadium on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7. On Saturday the Bronco Bench Foundation will host a pre-race reception, so any and all alumni are welcome.