Feb. 6, 2004
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men and women's cross country programs held their annual awards banquet recently and recognized a number of outstanding team and individual performances that contributed to both teams' success in 2003.
Senior Ben Gauen was named the men's Most Outstanding Runner, while fifth-year senior Michael Neumann was recognized as the Most Improved and senior Ricky Brackett was honored as the team's Most Inspirational Runner. On the women's team, freshman Shannon Bell was named the Most Outstanding Runner, junior Robin Bell earned the Team Captain Award and senior Cara Payne earned the Coach's Award.
Gauen was an honorable mention all-West Coast Conference selection in 2003 after finishing 11th at the league championships. An all-WCC Academic Honor Team selection, he led the team in six of seven races and posted the best time ever for a Bronco at Blue Lake Regional Park course, the site of the NCAA Regionals, with a 10,000-meter time of 32:04.
"All three awards went to seniors who were instrumental to the success of the program over the past five seasons," said men's head coach John Maloney. "Michael Neumann, voted most improved, is a fifth-year senior who set his sights on making the top seven in his last season of eligibility. The only way he was going to do it was to drop tremendous amounts of time off his PR's through training hard. He did exactly that and got to experience representing the Mission Harriers for the first time at the West Region and West Coast Conference Championships.
"Ricky Brackett, the most inspirational, provided spirit to the program by never giving up. Ricky went down in early October with an injury that appeared season ending. But, he continued cross training with the slim hope of making a difference for both the West Region and West Coast Conference meets. He kept the rest of the team focused and working hard when times were rough.
"Last but certainly not least, Ben Gauen, our team's most valuable runner, led the team in five of the seven meets and finished the season with a school record in his final race as a Bronco. Ben worked as hard as any athlete that I have coached in every facet of training and truly earned the awards he earned in all four seasons that he competed on the Mission Campus."
Bell, the younger sister of teammate Robin Bell, was the team's top finisher in five of six races and earned first-team all-WCC honors after finishing seventh at the league championships. She finished 32nd at the NCAA regionals in Portland, which was the best finish ever for a Santa Clara runner. Bell's top 5,000-meter time was a 17:35.11 at the Willamette Invitational, good for a 13th-place finish.