Bronco Distance Squads Bolt To Strong Start

Aug. 30, 2003

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BELMONT, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's cross country team made a major statement to the West Coast collegiate distance community Saturday with a solid second-place finish behind last year's NCAA runners-up Stanford and placing three freshmen among its top five runners in the annual Bronco Invitational at Crystal Springs Cross Country Course.

The Bronco men, overcoming the loss of three of its top five runners from a year ago, finished fourth in the eight-team men's 8,000-meter race. The defending national champion Stanford men swept each of the top five individual places in the race to win the team title with just 15 total points. Cal Poly was second with 45 points and Gonzaga finished in a surprising third-place with 87 points.

Cardinal Jon Pierce posted the third-fastest 8,000-meter performance on the Crystal Springs course, winning the men's race in a time of 24:51.3. Brett Gotcher and Jacob Gomez finished less than a second behind for Stanford. Only Adam Tenforde, who finished in fifth Saturday, finished among the Cardinal's top seven on its NCAA championship team a year ago.

In the women's race, Cardinal runners took four of the top seven individual places overall to record 17 points, 37 ahead of Santa Clara and 67 in front of third-place Cal Poly's 87. Gonzaga finished in fourth-place in the 10-team field. Sara Bei led the field with a time of 18:03.2, the fourth-fastest time for a woman on the 5,000-meter Crystal Springs course. She paced fellow Cardinal runners Katy Trotter and Jeane Goff, who finished less than half a second behind.

"I'm thrilled with the way our newcomers performed today," said Santa Clara women's head coach Tom Service. "However, more importantly, I'm really pleased with the condition in which entire squad reported to campus. They all clearly are committed to success and are well prepared to help achieve team success. We have a great group of athletes who all pull together and having more depth at the top of the lineup will only help us continue to raise our program to new heights. Like everyone in this meet, we were using the Bronco Invitational to help us gauge where we were heading into the season. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but today's result certainly helps us feel good about our chances for success this season."

The Santa Clara women were led individually by a sixth-place finish by freshman Shannon Bell. The younger sister of junior Robin Bell, the Spokane, Wash. native bolted out of the blocks to record a time of 18:34.2 in her first collegiate race. Fellow freshman Lauren Swigart finished eighth with a time of 18:39.4 and Robin Bell finished 10th with a time of 18:55.2 to give the Broncos three runners in the top 10 in the race. Junior Milena Basile finished 13th in a time of 19:05.4, while freshman Blossom Marimpietri crossed the tape in 17th with a time of 19:24.6.

The Bronco men placed four runners between 17th and 28th places, paced by senior Benjamin Gauen's 17th-place effort in an 8,000-meter time of 27:14.9. Sophomore Chris Doerhoff knocked :25 seconds off last year's time at the Bronco Invitational to finish 18th overall in a time of 27:19.1. Fellow sophomore John Hinman was 21st in 27:35.8, while Ricky Brackett and Michael Neumann rounded out the scoring for the Broncos.

"This is the first time we have conducted the Bronco Invitational so early in the season," said John Maloney, SCU's men's coach for the past 10 years. "I thought this would be a good personal challenge for each and every one of our guys. Our objective today wasn't to see how we stacked up against Stanford, or anyone else for that matter. Our goal was to see where are are at this early stage of the season and put ourselves in a position to be able to improve as the season progresses. We have some younger guys who will have to step into leadership roles for our team and today's race started the process of determining exactly who will do that."

The Santa Clara men and women's teams will use the next two weeks for a training camp leading up to the Sept. 13 Aggie Open in Davis, Calif.