Nov. 1, 2003
BELMONT, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's and men's cross country teams entered Saturday's West Coast Conference Championships at less than full strength but battled to second and third-place finishes, respectively, at Crystal Springs Cross Country Course.
The highlight of the day for Santa Clara was the result of the Bronco women's team, which set the pace early and clearly led the team race throughout most of the 5,000-meters. Five Bronco women earned all-WCC honors, led by freshman Lauren Swigart's team-leading fifth-place effort.
Swigart was one of five Broncos to set personal bests on the challenging Crystal Springs course as she covered the event in a time of 18:34. Fellow freshman Shannon Bell, who hadn't competed since the Willamette Invitational on Oct. 4 due to a slight hip injury, finished seventh in a time of 18:38. She crossed the line just :03 seconds ahead of her teammate and older sister, Robin, who was ninth with a time of 18:41. Katie Hansen was 10th in 18:44 and Blossom Marimpietri was 12th with 18:50.
"This might sound strange, but I've never been so happy with second-place in my life," said women's head coach Tom Service, who has led the Broncos to a championship and two runner-up finishes in his three years. "With Shannon not having raced in a month and, basically, training in the pool for the last few weeks and five runners achieving PR's today, I thought our team performance was outstanding. We took the race out early and wanted the other teams to come after us. We had a chance to win it and we competed really well. We really are looking forward to the regional championships in two weeks. I'm encouraged with where we are right now and I know our girls are looking forward to another chance to race in a championship meet."
The Bronco men took a third-place finish despite the absence of senior Ricky Brackett and a recent illness by John Hinman that hampered the sophomore's training schedule. Senior Ben Gauen led Santa Clara with an 11th-place finish and earned all-WCC honors in the process. The Seattle, Wash. native covered the demanding 8,000-meter course in a time of 26:25, nearly a minute faster than his time on the same course in the season-opening Bronco Invitational in late August.
"Clearly we are disappointed in our team finish," said men's head coach John Maloney, who's squads finished second at the league championships in each of the last three years. "The reality is that we needed some help today from some of the other schools competing to hang on to our number two spot in the league. Our guys really competed well today, however, and I really have to be proud of that. This was Chris (Doerhoff) and JP's (Thyken) first conference race so, hopefully, some of our younger guys got some good experience. We are looking forward to traveling to Portland for the regionals in two weeks. That will be another great learning experience for our guys."
Hinman was the second finisher for Santa Clara, covering the course in a time of 26:58 and finishing in 15th-place overall. He was followed by a trio of sophomores in Pat Green, John Paul Thyken and Chris Doerhoff. Green ran a 27:06 to finish 18th, while Thyken was 25th in a time of 27:24. Doerhoff was the fifth scorer for Santa Clara with a 31st-place finish in a time of 27:47.