November 1, 2007

Cross country teams finish strong in WCC

Nov. 1, 2007

The Santa Clara

By Cecile Nguyen

The Santa Clara men's and women's cross country teams finished third and fourth, respectively, at the West Coast Conference Championships this past weekend.

Senior Mike Delaurenti lead the way for the men, finishing the challenging 8K course in 25:27, good enough for third place overall.

"Mike gave us four years of hard work, and it's nice to see him make such a big jump from his freshman year to his senior year," said Head Coach Tom Service.

Delaurenti nearly finished second, but Portland's Zuber Ahmed passed him on the final stretch.

"I had a chance to win it," Delaurenti said. "In the last 1,000 meters the San Francisco runner (Cheyne Inman) pulled away, but I'm really happy with how I finished."

His finish was the highest ever among Broncos at the championships, and his time was good enough for a Santa Clara course record, as well as All-WCC First Team honors.

"I came in 29th place (at Crystal Springs) last year," Delaurenti said. "Since then, my main focus in training has been to perform well there."

Freshman Chris Sampson and sophomore Alex Harkins joined Delaurenti, also earning All-WCC honorable mentions with 14th and 15th place finishes, respectively.

"Chris has had an incredible freshman year," Assistant Coach Felipe Montoro said. "He broke our freshman record at that course and has been one of our top guys."

The men's cross country team finished in third place, behind perennial powerhouse Portland and Loyola Marymount.

"Last year, the fastest guy on the team ran a 26:03, and this year the team average was 26:03," Montoro said. "The guys put in a lot of work, and we have very talented young runners this year."

On the women's side, freshman Melissa Conlin was the Broncos' top runner, finishing eighth and earning All-WCC honors.

"Melissa was incredible," Service said. "She had an extremely fast time and closed well; she moved from 15th to 8th place in the last half of the race." The team finished in fourth place behind Portland, San Francisco and LMU.

The women's cross country team was without top runner Adriane Puetz, who is out for the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in her foot.

"To lose our number-one runner in Adriane that close to the WCC championship was tough," Service said. "But the girls stepped up and did an excellent job."

Veronica Vazquez, Danielle Miller and Annie Murphy-Hagan finished within seconds of each other in 16th, 17th and 18th place, respectively, narrowly missing All-WCC honors.

Both teams are now preparing for the NCAA regional race, which will be held in Eugene, Ore., next weekend.

The Broncos will be facing stiff competition from some of the best programs in the nation, including current No. 1 ranked Oregon and No. 8 Cal.

"This will be our toughest race of the year with 35 Division I teams in the West," Service said. "We need to step up our performance."

Montoro expects big races from both Delaurenti and Conlin.

"The best ever Santa Clara finish was 14th place back in 2002," Delaurenti said. "We should be able to match, or even exceed, it this year."