Sept. 7, 2002
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's and women's cross-country teams opened their 2002 seasons Saturday with fourth and sixth-place finishes at the UCI Invitational at Central Park.
The Bronco women opened their defense of last season's West Coast Conference title with a sixth-place finish in the 12-team, 5,000-meter event. Nearby Los Alamitos, Calif. native Kim Bates, a transfer from the University of Arizona attending graduate school at Santa Clara, provided friends and family with a strong performance with a second-place finish in a time of 18:33.5. Last year's second-team all-WCC selection Milena Basile was the Broncos' second finisher with a 20th-place time of 19:44.0 while 2001 WCC freshman of the year Robin Bell finished 25th in a time of 19:49.9.
"This was about what I expected for our first meet of the year, particularly since we've only had a few days together as a team," said second-year head coach Tom Service. "Kim ran well and it was a special event for her to get the chance to run near her hometown in front of her family. I thought Milena and Robin also ran well and will continue to make progress as two of our top three runners. I was particularly pleased with Courtney Daniels, who is coming off an injury and really has not completed a competitive race in nearly two years.
"All in all, I think this was a good first effort. It gives us the opportunity to see where we are and where we need to improve. After all, I'm much more concerned about where we are in November than where we are in September."
In the men's 8,000-meter race, Bronco senior Thomas Chapman was Santa Clara's top finisher with an 11th-place time of 26:13.7. Not far behind were Michael Helms, who returns after a redshirt season in 2001, in 14th-place and Benjamin Gauen in 17th. Helms finished with a time of 26:17.8, while Gauen ran 26:31.2. Dominic Ricci and John Hinman were Santa Clara's fourth and fifth finishers, respectively.
"I was pleased with the effort of our entire team today and, in paraticular, our younger guys," said head coach John Maloney. "The gap between our top guys and the fourth and fifth runners was about 16 or 17 seconds better than I had expected and I think we will have better performances ahead for both of those guys. So, I think there should be some pretty solid expectations for our entire team from top to bottom.
"I thought our guys executed our gameplan pretty well. We were competitive with the teams in front of us, having only finished one point behind Fresno State. I thought both Thomas Chapman and Michael Helms had a lot left in the tank at the end. The ran side-by-side until the last 200-meters adn they are both in good shape as they prepare for the 10k race at regionals. Benjamin Gauen also looked good and I thought he also had a bit left in the end."
The Bronco men's and women's squads split up next week with the men competing at the USF Invitational at Golden Gate Park, while the women will be competing at the Fresno State Invitational.