Harriers Ready For WCC Championships

Oct. 26, 2005

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The goal for every team is to win a championship.

That's exactly what the Santa Clara University men's and women's cross country teams look to do Saturday when they compete at the annual West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships at Crystal Springs XC Course in Belmont, Calif.

The men's 8k race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., while the women's 5k competition will feature a 9:45 a.m. start. All eight teams in the WCC are scheduled to compete in the championships.

"The season has been a very successful campaign so far," said SCU head coach Tom Service. "The first meets of the year were very conservative as our race plans were geared for strong finishes each week. As the season has progressed we have asked more of each team and they have responded very positively. The Santa Clara Invitational was a great tuneup for conference and the team proved they are ready to run very fast."

"On the men's side, Portland ranked 15th is a potential top 10 team at nationals," Service said. "They are very deep and talented and look to continue their WCC dominance. The race should be very competitive for second place between us, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount. Several of our guys should also be very competitive for all-WCC honors.

"Freshman Chris Mulvany has led the Broncos in each of his four races this year. Sophomore Michael Delaurenti, a 2004 all-WCC performer, looks to improve on last year's great race. Seniors John Paul Thyken and Chris Doerhoff would like nothing better than then to have their last WCC race be their best. The trio of Taylor Graham, Christen Gumbs, and Michael Hannon are all running well and look to join the afore mentioned frontrunners in the scoring column. Reliable sophomore Andrew Blumel is a competent alt. should the need arise.

"A number of similarities exist on the women's side," said Service. "Teamwise Portland (ranked 7th in the West) appears to have an edge for team honors after coming off an excellent race at Pre-Nationals. We should be in a serious battle for second with San Francisco and quickly improving Loyola Marymount.

"As on the Men's side many Broncos have an excellent chance at receiving post season honors. After a one year hiatus, Redshirt Sophomore Shannon Bell will lead her teammates over the hilly Crystal Springs course. Like Mulvany, Bell has lead the team in each of her four races and continues to improve daily. A trio of freshman, Veronica Vazquez, Anna Wheatley, and Whitney Porter continue to run well and could vie for WCC Freshman of the Year honors. Senior Kiley Strong looks to cap her WCC career with her best race ever. Sophomore Adriane Puetz (16th in 2004) is looking for a repeat of her best race as a Bronco. Junior Jesse Baldwin-Philippi hopes experience is on her side Saturday as she races the site of many of her outstanding performances. Andrea Roozen is our alternate. Injured freshman Noelle Lopez is the honorary alternate."

San Diego's Tiffanie Marley and Portland's John Moore have posted the fastest 5K and 8K times, respectively, among WCC harriers so far this season. Moore's 23:55.4 mark came at the Willamette Invitational, where the sophomore led the Pilots to a first place finish. The top four 8K times recorded by WCC runners were all notched by Portland at the Willamette Invite, including a 23:55.9 mark by Micah Rolfe and a 23:57.8 time registered by Michael Kilburg. Portland runners have established nine of the top-10 8K times this season.

On the women's side, Marley has recorded four of the conference's top-10 5K times, including the top two. Her 17:47.0 mark at the Catholic Universities Invitational at Notre Dame has been the fastest time posted by a WCC runner this season, and her 17:48.8 time at the UC Riverside Invitational is a close second. Santa Clara's Shannon Bell and LMU's Sara Mickelson have each posted two of the conference's top-10 times, with Bell's mark of 17:54.5 at the Bronco Invite ranking as the third fastest time in the WCC, and Mickelson's 18:01.8 time at the Cal Poly Invite ranking fourth.

Saturday's WCC Championships will feature three runners that have previously won individual conference titles. San Diego's Tiffanie Marley, who became the first Torero to win an individual crown in 2003, is back for her final season on the women's side as well Portland's Amie Dahnke, who claimed last year's individual title and posted the second fastest time (17:40) in WCC Championship history.

On the men's side, Portland's Brett Carter looks to regain the title that he claimed as a freshman in 2003 after finishing second to teammate Nick Schuetze last year. Also returning for this year's race is 2004 third place finisher Joe Miller from Gonzaga (25:33), fifth place finisher Matt Perez from Portland (25:56), and sixth place finisher Cheyne Inman from San Francisco (26:00).