September 5, 2008

Cross Country Teams Picked to finish Fourth in WCC Preseason Poll

Sept. 5, 2008

The University of Portland men's and women's cross country teams were both picked to repeat as conference champions, as chosen by the WCC coaches in the 2008 preseason poll with Santa Clara's men and women both picked to finish fourth. The Portland men received the maximum seven first place votes, while the women barely missed out on a perfect score with six first place votes.

"West Coast Conference Cross Country has become more competitive each year," said Santa Clara head coach Tom Service. "In the past there were only a couple of teams capable of winning conference or challenging for a top 10 position in the West Region. The number of quality programs increases each year. Based on our 2007 performance I believe picking SCU for fourth in the WCC is a fair prediction. Both Coach Montoro and myself are very confident that on Nov. 1 our teams will be extremely competitive and rewrite the Pre-season poll."

The Pilots have won the men's race 29 consecutive years, the longest streak in any sport in WCC history. However 2007 marked the first time in 28 years that a Portland runner did not win the individual championship as USF's Cheyne Inman captured the title winning the race in 25:20. Portland did end up winning the meet, scoring 32 points with Loyola Marymount coming in second with 59 points, which is the highest it has finished since placing second in 1981.

As is the case with the men's program, the WCC women's cross country championship has been dominated by Portland since its inception. The Pilots have won 18 of the 23 women's championships the WCC has sponsored, including 11 of the last 12. The women's championship was run on a 6K course for just the second time in 2007, and Portland's Dana Morgan, who was the Freshman of the Year the previous season, captured the individual title with a time of 20:32, setting a course record. San Francisco set a program-record with 43 points en route to a second place finish.

San Francisco was picked third in the men's poll with 37 points, and Santa Clara was tabbed for a fourth place finish with 34 points. Pepperdine (24) edged Gonzaga (19) for fifth place, and San Diego collected 13 points to take the No. 7 spot in the poll. Saint Mary's rounds out the listing in eighth place with nine points.

The women's poll mirrors the men's poll, with San Francisco picked for a third place finish with 37 points and Santa Clara grabbing the fourth place spot with 31 points. Pepperdine was slated for a fifth place finish with 25 points, while Gonzaga was picked to finish sixth with 16 points. San Diego and Saint Mary's each received 14 points to rank just behind the Bulldogs, to close out the listing.

The 2008 WCC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championship will take place on November 1 at the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in Belmont, CA.

2008 WCC Preseason Cross Country Poll Results

Men

1. Portland 49 (7)

2. Loyola Marymount 39

3. San Francisco 37 (1)

4. Santa Clara 34

5. Pepperdine 24

6. Gonzaga 19

7. San Diego 13

8. Saint Mary's 9

Women

1. Portland 48 (6)

2. Loyola Marymount 42 (1)

3. San Francisco 37 (1)

4. Santa Clara 31

5. Pepperdine 25

6. Gonzaga 16

7. San Diego 14

Saint Mary's 14

(first place votes)