Nov. 9, 2007
The Santa Clara cross country teams will finish off their season this weekend at the NCAA West Regional in Eugene, Ore. The Broncos will send their seven best runners from both the men's and women's teams to compete against 35 division-I teams.
The course at Springfield Country Club is "blazingly fast" according to head coach Tom Service. It's a flat golf course with hardly any hills, but it does not come without challenges. Then men will be running a 10k for the first time all year and the women will be running a 6k. "A 10k is exactly twice the distance that our freshmen ran in high school, and we have three freshman running in this race," said Service. "But they have adapted extremely well to running an 8k that we believe they can push through that extra 2k."
The men will be led by Michael Delaurenti, as he has done all this season, who will be running most likely his final cross country race as a Bronco. "Mike is the epitome of what you want to see in distance progress," said Service. "He was kind of uncelebrated coming out of high school and he's worked his way up to being an All-WCC runner."
Also running for Santa Clara's men's team will be their usual batch of freshmen that have come up big this year. All-WCC Honorable Mention Chris Sampson has placed second on the team every race since the second one of the season, and fellow All-WCC Honorable Mention Alex Harkins has come in close behind as of late. "Chris has been great for us this year," said Service. "And Alex is a great athlete, I expect big races from them."
Freshmen Robert Reid and Christopher Mosier as well as sophomore John Laughlin will also gain valuable experience at the regional this year. Senior A.J. Blumel is the only other senior along with Delaurenti. "The 10k really lends itself well to A.J.'s slow and steady style," said Service. "He could have a great race."
For the women, freshman and All-WCC performer Melissa Conlin will look to set the pace for the Broncos. "Melissa had kind of moderate times coming out of high school," said Service. "But we saw something in her, she's a very competitive person, and she's continued to improve to get to the point she's at now."
Annie Murphy-Hagan has battled injury and illness this year, but will try to finish her season strong at the West Regional. Veronica Vazquez has been running strong and will look to post a good time. And Noelle Lopez, who has also battled injury problems, will be running in her first championship race as seniors Danielle Miller and Blossom Marimpietri will be running in their final cross country race as Broncos this weekend.
The key for the women, without top runner Adriane Puetz, will be to run as a pack and score well together without a really low score up front.
The Broncos will be running against the best teams in the west, and some of the best in the country. "Our best finish was 13th in the West Regionals," said Service. "With a great race from both team's that's possible."
Santa Clara will try to reach that mark this Saturday, November 10 at the Springfield Country Club in Eugene, Ore.