Santa Clara Ready For WCC Championships And Hoping For First Place Finishes

Oct. 27, 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- On Saturday, October 28th, Santa Clara will get to put their entire season's preparation to work at the WCC Championships, held at Crystal Springs in Belmont, Calif.. The men's 8k race will begin at 9:00 a.m., and the women's 6k race will follow at 9:45 a.m..

"Crystal Springs is one of the most storied cross country courses in the state of California", said head coach Tom Service. "This course is truly open only to cross country, and if you consider a 30 day window about this time of year, 26 or so of those days the course at Crystal is used for a cross country championship event."

Shannon Bell is clearly one of the favorites this year, after finishing the 2005 race in 2nd place, just 11 seconds behind the winner from Portland. But besides Shannon, Santa Clara will field one of their strongest women's teams of any event this year. Senior Lauren Swigart, and sophomores Anna Wheatley and Adriane Puetz have had very good seasons, and sophomore Veronica Vazquez, who was runner-up for 2005 WCC Freshman of the Year is now dialed in and ready to go. Freshman Gillian Fitch had one of the top 6k finishes in the WCC at the Sundodger Invitational, and Annie Murphy-Hagan, who finished 7th at the Bronco Invitational two weeks ago will make her bid for 2006 Freshman of the Year honors, participating in her first conference championship event.

2006 will mark the first year that the women's WCC Championship race is a 6k race.

"It will be interesting running a 6k because it (Crystal Springs) is already a challenging course", Service said. "Some coaches were reluctant to run their first championship as a 6k, but they've done a very good job designing the course. I think we are ready for it, so it should be a very exciting day."

the men's team, Chris Gumbs is well rested and ready to go. Joined by juniors Mike Delaurenti and A.J. Blumel, Santa Clara has one of the most focused men's squads this season than in recent years. Their patience on the course might just be all they need to come out ahead of rivals Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount and San Francisco. Sophomores Dan Smith and Mike Hannon have burst on the scene in the past few weeks, with Hannon leading the Broncos at the Bronco Invitational on 10/14 with an 8k time of 25:33. Rounding out the team are freshmen Stephen Koch and Alex Harkins, who were both at or below 26:00 at the Bronco Invitational. But at the conference championships, its not just about the times.

WCC, it is really a team race", Service said. "The times really go out the window. It's not about time, it's about competition. Portland will definitely be the team to beat, but I really like our chances this year."