Mission Harriers Complete Memorable Season

May 7, 2003

By John Maloney

The 2002 cross country season saw many highlights for the Mission Harriers as a team. Led by fifth-year seniors Michael Helms and Thomas Chapman, the squad established school records in winning the Bronco Invitational and finishing second in the West Coast Conference.

The team strength of schedule increased as it competed at the UC Irvine Invitational for the first time, the Stanford Invitational after a one-year absence, and hosted the Bronco Invitational, a meet with the second largest field of Division I schools in the West Region.

The Broncos finished fourth at UC Irvine, but came back to defeat the three schools who finished ahead of them at the Stanford Invitational later in September. Helms led the team at Stanford defeating the WCC's #3 finisher Antonio Lopez in the process which helped earn him West Coast Conference Athlete of the Month honors. The team earned 11th place at Stanford and defeated West Region foes within the state of California, establishing the squad as the sixth best Division I program in the state.

Following the trend of defeating opponents who the Broncos lost to in their first matchups, the Mission Harriers returned to Stanford for the West Regional Championship in November and defeated the 10th place team at the Stanford Invitational while defeating many West Region foes for the second time at the Stanford Golf Course. It was an unprecedented season of performances for the team highlighted by the team's performances at Stanford.

Aside from Stanford, the Broncos showed their talent at Crystal Springs in winning the Bronco Invitational and finishing second in the West Coast Conference Championships. The Mission Harriers set a school team time record at Crystal Springs for the Bronco Invitational while defeating the number four team in the Big West Conference.

The team turned around two weeks later and eclipsed the team time record once more at the West Coast Conference Championships. The Broncos landed four (Helms, Chapman, Benjamin Gauen and John Hinman) on the all-conference team and two more (Dominic Ricci and Ricky Brackett) as honorable mention selections. In addition, Hinman was the second freshman finisher in the conference, Helms earned his fourth all-conference honor, Chapman and Gauen earned their third and Brackett his second. Other conference honors include Ricci and Gauen earning their second WCC All-Academic team designation.

The Broncos spring season was highlighted by the performances of Hinman and Brackett at the Stanford Invitational. Hinman eclipsed the PR's of his older teammates in running 15:01.40 for 5000m with Bracket just :13 seconds back. The freshman trio of John Paul Thyken, Chris Doerhoff, and Pat Green emerged at the Bruce Drummond Invitational, breaking 15:40 for 5000m. At the middle distances, freshman Bryan Lorentz clocked a 4:07.70 at 1500m in beating teammate Brackett and Michael Wall won his heat in 2:00-flat for 800 meters at the Sacramento Spring Jamboree.

The team also excelled in the classroom as it garnered the highest team GPA of all athletic teams, including women's cross country. This was done in the winter quarter while the squad was in the middle of competing in track meets and training daily during final exams.

Ricci, a senior who spent his junior XC season studying abroad in Italy, highlights this senior class as he has been accepted into the school of medicine at Loyola University. Fifth-year seniors Helms, Chapman and Stephen Moore completed their degrees from Santa Clara in December 2002. Ricci and four-year letter winner Michael Richmond will graduate in June 2003.

The Mission Harriers are eager for next season. The emergence of the freshmen (Thyken, Doerhoff, Green, Lorentz) in track combined with classmate Hinman and WCC all-conference returnees Gauen and Brackett make the 2003 team optimistic. Despite the loss of three all-conference runners (Helms, Chapman, Ricci), the freshmen are looking forward to the challenge of replacing them and matching this past season's achievements.

Santa Clara University
2002 Cross Country Awards

Most Valuable: Michael Helms
Most Improved: Dominic Ricci
Most Inspirational: Kevin Edwards
Team Champion: Bronco Invitational

West Coast Conference First Team
Thomas Chapman, Michael Helms, Benjamin Gauen, John Hinman

West Coast Conference Honorable Mention
Dominic Ricci, Ricky Brackett

WCC September Athlete of the Month: Michael Helms

West Coast Conference All-Academic: Benjamin Gauen, Dominic Ricci

SCU Course Records
Central Park Huntington Beach 8000 meters: Thomas Chapman (26:13.7)
Golden Gate Park 4 miles: Ricky Brackett (21:29)
Aggie Open: Thomas Chapman (25:27.2)
Stanford Golf Course 8000 meters: Michael Helms (24:53)
Golden Gate Park 8000 meters: Dominic Ricci (26:22.1)
Stanford Golf Course 10,000 meters: Michael Helms (32:31)

Top Ten Finishes
USF Invite: Ricky Brackett (7)
Aggie Open: Thomas Chapman (9), Michael Helms (10)
SF State Invite: Dominic Ricci (8)
Bronco Invite: Michael Helms (2), John Hinman (7), Thomas Chapman (8), Ben Gauen (10)
West Coast Conference: Thomas Chapman (7), Michael Helms (8), Ben Gauen (9), John Hinman (10)

WCC Team Finish: 2nd 3rd year in a row 12th time in 27 years of WCC Championships
West Region Finish: 14th of 30 schools