Distance Squad Earns Regional Ranking

Oct. 9, 2003

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's cross country team is ranked 10th in the West Region, according to the most recent Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association poll, marking the highest ranking in school history.

The Broncos, coming off a fifth-place finish at the highly-respected Willamette Invitational last weekend in Salem, Ore., have finished among the top six in each of its four meets this season. The squad has the weekend off in preparation for the Santa Clara Invitational, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 18 at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, Calif. The annual West Coast Conference championships are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 1 at Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in Belmont, Calif.

"Of course we are really pleased with being able to break into the top 10 in the region," said Tom Service, in his third season as head coach of the Broncos. "This recognition is especially satisfying considering we have a relatively young team. But, to keep this in perspective, it is about three weeks from conference and well over a month until the NCAA Regional meet and our performance at those two championship events is what counts for our program."

The West Regional poll lists last year's national runners-up Stanford as the top team, followed by Arizona State, UCLA, Washington, UC Santa Barbara, Idaho, California, Portland, UC Davis and Santa Clara. The Broncos have posted a 1-2 record against UC Davis, one of the top teams in NCAA Division II a year ago.

Freshman Shannon Bell has been one of a number of bright spots for this year's squad. The younger sister of teammate Robin Bell, Shannon has been SCU's top finisher at every meet this season. She ran a personal-best 17:35.11 and finished in 13th-place overall last weekend at Willamette. Fellow freshman Lauren Swigart also broke the 18:00 barrier, finishing 29th with a time of 17:57.97. Robin Bell, Milena Basile and Cara Payne form the rest of the team's top five with another freshman Blossom Marimpietri breaking through as the team's fifth finsher last weekend.