Aug. 14, 2003
The Santa Clara women's cross country program has made great strides to become one of the most competitive squads on the West Coast. Under third-year head coach Tom Service, this year's squad boasts the school's deepest group of talented freshmen ever and a returning core of veterans that should have a chance to win the school's second league title in three seasons. SantaClaraBroncos.com caught up with Service to get his thoughts on the upcoming season.
Q: What are your thoughts on last season's team performance?
A: "With the team make-up of graduate students, transfers, freshmen and a sprinkling of veterans I thought they gelled very well. We had several peak performances during the 2002 season. We ran outstanding team races at both Willamette and our own Bronco Invite. We were runner-up in the WCC and finished a best ever 15th in the West Regional Championships."
Q: Can you talk about the impact of winning the WCC in 2001 on the cross country program?
A: "Winning the 2001 WCC title sent mini shock waves through the West Coast distance running community. The team's level of self confidence grew tremendously. However, the team's performance in 2002 probably brought more lasting credibility to the program. Defeating Portland at Willamette, taking second in the conference and 15th in the Region announced that 2001 wasn't a fluke and made high school juniors and seniors give Santa Clara a serious look."
Q: What are your expectations for this year's team?
A: "The 2003 season is going to be a great challenge as nine veterans including 'top five' runners Milena Basile, Robin Bell, and Katie Hansen welcome seven outstanding freshman to the team. The season has tremendous potential. It will be extremely important to see how fast the large freshmen class can meld with our returning runners. We should definitely be in the hunt for the WCC championship along with with Portland, last year's champion. Improving our standing in the West Region is also an important goal."
Q: Can you describe the summer training program for the returning athletes as well as the incoming freshmen?
A: "Our summer program is divided into two week training blocks with emphasis on a large quantity of base miles. The girls are assigned training groups based on a variety of factors. Freshman as well as veterans are monitored closely before the next cycle begins."
Q: How does this year's schedule differ from those in year's past and does it prepare your team to peak for AC and NCAA competition?
A: "The 2003 season differs early with the date change of the Bronco Invite on August 30. This change allows us to attract a quality field early in the season. Secondly we will be fresher for the WCC Finals not having run this challenging course two weeks before the championship. Also our adjusted schedule leaves us more quality training time for the championship meets."
Q: What are your long-term goals for the Bronco cross country program?
A: "With the continued support of the Athletic Department, the long range goal of the program is to compete at the NCAA Div. I Cross Country Championships. With direction the program is going and the quality of the athletes we are attracting, this doesn't have to be such a 'long range' goal."
Q: How have you enjoyed being at Santa Clara the last two seasons?
A: "It has been a privilege for me to work with the dedicated student-athletes at Santa Clara University. The first season we went through a definite transition period. Several of the veterans had to decide if they wanted to be a part of the new direction the team was going. We were asking for a deeper commitment and a new level of dedication. The outstanding nucleus that stayed helped attract new recruits with this same 'Championship' attitude that they possessed."