July 14, 2003

Mission Harriers Prepare For New Season

July 14, 2003

In his 11th season as the head men's cross country program John Maloney is one of the longest-tenured coaches on the Mission Campus. He has led the Bronco distance program to three-straight second-place finishes in the West Coast Conference championships and is a two-time league coach of the year. SantaClaraBroncos.com recently talked with Maloney to get his thoughts on his program.

Q: What are your thoughts on last season's team performance?
A: "I am very pleased with last season's performances. We were able to be beat some West Region schools for the first time. We came the closest (by team time) to the top ten in the West Region in school history. It was a great 2002 spring with four guys hitting 15:12 at 5,000 meters on the track that led into a super fall of cross country. We brought on a great class of freshmen, led by John Hinman, that was able to contribute right away to the program's success."

Q: Can you talk about the impact of the senior class on the men's cross country program?
A: "The past five seasons with Mike Helms and Thomas Chapman culminated in a special team last fall. Two years ago, Charlie Brenneman combined with Mike Helms to be the first Bronco duo in 15 years to place in the top five of the WCC. This year they carried on Charlie's legacy by continuing to improve Santa Clara's performances outside the WCC, where the team has finished second for three straight years. The team, winning the Bronco Invite over the second largest Division I field in a West Coast meet last year, and top 14 finishes at Stanford and the West Region last season were highlights for the seniors.

"Also, the four-year journeys of Mike Richmond and Dominic Ricci highlighted our season. Mike finished in the top seven on the team in three of his four years. Dominic was huge in his career as he stepped up his training each year, finishing as our number five runner in the West Region Championship. I have never coached anyone who has committed to improving as much as Moose Ricci. Finally, I'm really proud that Mike Richmond (computer science-UCSB), Dominic Ricci (medical-Loyola), and Michael Neumann (engineering at SCU, while competing in last season of eligibility) all completed their undergraduate degrees and are headed to graduate school. Thomas Chapman and Michael Helms finished their degrees last December and are continuing their running careers and working. All five had an impact by elevating the program athletically while joining me as fellow alumni of Santa Clara."

Q: What are your expectations for this year's team?
A: "We expect to finish in the top 15 of the West Region and the top two of the WCC. We are counting heavily on seniors Ben Gauen and Ricky Brackett to match the departed duo of Helms and Chapman. We expect to be deeper than last year with Pat Green, John Paul Thyken, and Chris Doerhoff all making improvements to advance past our number five runner from last season. But, we need this year's seniors and sophomore John Hinman to improve significantly in order to match our senior dominated team of last season. We expect to establish the program as one on the rise to attract athletes who want to be a part of making history at Santa Clara University."

Q: Can you describe the summer training program for the returning athletes as well as the incoming freshmen?
A: "Our summer training is tailored for each individual. We take as many committed athletes as we can. This year's roster has top ten finishers in high school state meets down to those who didn't qualify for their high school state championships. Our seniors are usually more developed than our incoming freshmen, so it takes a number of different training approaches to get everyone to reach their best efforts in November."

Q: How does this year's schedule differ from those in year's past and does it prepare your team to peak for WCC and NCAA competition?
A: "Our schedule is the most competitive I have ever put together. Last season, we raced at UC Irvine (finishing 4th behind three schools we beat at Stanford later in the season) and followed that up with big meets at Stanford and Bronco. This year, we moved Bronco to our first meet and we will race at Stanford and Willamette in Oregon. For the Bronco, we are excited to receive commitments by our defending WCC Champion and the defending NCAA Champion to highlight the field. We will be seeing many of our West Region opposition at Stanford and Willamette, both of which we expect to better prepare us for the West Region Championship in November."

Q: What are your long-term goals for the Bronco men's cross country program?
A: "I expect our distance programs to be in the top ten of the West Region. We have a lot of work ahead of us to get there in bringing out improvement of our athletes and in attracting top athletes. I am excited to see our freshmen women bring a level of talent to Santa Clara that makes the future very bright. I expect to continue to bring in some top athletes to brighten the men's future. We have a lot of room for growth in providing resources to the program. With greater resources, the program will soon match the success of other Santa Clara athletic teams that reach the NCAA tournament each season."

Q: How is Santa Clara cross country and athletics, in general, different than when you were a student? A: "Santa Clara athletics has changed a great deal since I was a student. NCAA championships in men and women's soccer a number of NCAA tournament appearances by men's and women's basketball, baseball and volleyball show how much athletics has taken off at Santa Clara since I graduated. Likewise, Santa Clara's academic reputation and admission standards have made it one of top schools in the West. In recent history, there is a commitment to a diversity of successful athletic teams in the athletic program. Santa Clara has a storied history of athletics in football, baseball and basketball that has been the foundation of success of the present NCAA champions on our campus. Cross Country has also changed a great deal since I was a student, particularly when the WCC began hosting a women's championship. In addition, the WCC is honoring athletes and coaches with awards that didn't exist for XC when I competed. Santa Clara is attracting better runners and the teams are improving from where they were a decade ago. But, the teams that I competed on or coached with have always consisted of Santa Clara students who have shared the mission of a Jesuit University."

Q: How is married life treating you?
A: "Marriage has been the greatest experience of my life. I have been blessed with having Liz as my wife the past six months. It has been a wonderful journey with a partner that has helped me, and will continue to help me, grow as a person. She is also excited to challenge our parents, alumni, men's tennis, and softball teams as the biggest boosters at our cross country meets this year."