September 3, 2004

Women's Cross Country Tabbed to Claim Conference Crown

Sept. 3, 2004

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's cross country team split the vote to win the West Coast Conference title with Portland in the Preseason WCC Cross Country Coaches Poll. The men's program was tabbed to finish third in the conference in the rankings. "The WCC is improving rapidly," said head coach Tom Service. "The level of competition is quite challenging now. For the women, it is flattering to be chosen with our counterpart Portland, who we have a great rivalry with. On the men's side, I think the competition has become much greater. To finish third is not so easy." After finishing second in the conference the past two years and claiming its first-ever crown in 2001, the SCU women's squad earned 46 total points to place atop the poll with the two-time defending champion Pilots. The Broncos picked up four first place votes, while Portland received the remaining four. Behind the Broncos, Gonzaga tallied 30 points to be picked to finish third this season. Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine each earned 28 points to split the fourth position. San Francisco, San Diego and Saint Mary's round out the poll. Last season, SCU placed four runners in the top 10 of the WCC Championship meet, along with five in the top 15. Each of those five athletes, including fifth-place finisher sophomore Lauren Swigart, returns to the program this year. On the men's side, Portland was selected to reclaim the conference title for the 26th consecutive year. Gonzaga was chosen to finish second as Santa Clara rounded out the top three. The Broncos were the only team besides Portland to earn a first place vote. Loyola Marymount is slated to finish fourth in the conference, while San Francisco picked up 22 points to claim fifth place. Pepperdine, San Diego and Saint Mary's were picked to finish in the sixth through eighth places, respectively. The Bronco men finished third in the conference meet a year ago, with four runners in the top 25. Junior John Hinman, who placed in the top 20 in the meet, will anchor a team that advanced to the NCAA Regional meet last season. Santa Clara will open its season this weekend with the annual Bronco Invitational Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Both programs look to start the year strong with the yearly meet at Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in Belmont.

WCC Preseason Poll - Women

Rank SchoolPoints
t1. SANTA CLARA (4) 46
t1. Portland (4) 46
3. Gonzaga 30
t4. Loyola Marymount 28
t4. Pepperdine 18
6. San Francisco 23
7. San Diego 16
8. Saint Mary's 7

WCC Preseason Poll - Men

Rank SchoolPoints
1. Portland (7) 49
2. Gonzaga 41
3. SANTA CLARA (1) 37
4. Loyola Marymount 31
5. San Francisco 22
6. Pepperdine 21
7. San Diego 21
8. Saint Mary's 11
(first place votes)