September 26, 2008

Cross Country Teams Prepare For Stanford Invitational

Sept. 26, 2008

The Santa Clara cross country teams will travel to Palo Alto on Sat. Sept. 27 for the Stanford Invitational.  Bronco head coach Tom Service (TS) and assistant coach Felipe Montoro (FM) visited with santaclarabroncos.com (SCU) Friday to talk about what they have been working on to prepare for the meet, what they look forward to at the Bronco Invitational on Oct. 19 and who is stepping up these days.  While they work together on a daily basis to lead the cross country and track programs, Coach Service works primarily with the women's team and Coach Montoro works with the men's team this time of the year.

SCU: What have you been working on since your last meet? What is important to make sure you are doing as a cross country team this time of the year and this time of the schedule?

TS/FM: The team put in a heavy dose of volume as well as a few workouts since competing in Portland and Sacramento. We also made sure to do some of our workouts on grass in preparation for the Stanford meet and regionals, which is run on the same course in mid-November. We are most focused this time of year on staying healthy so that we can actually put all the hard work we have done to good use in the post season, as well as continuing to sharpen our fitness and maintain our aerobic strength.

SCU: Leadership is important. Are there a few returnees on the team who are doing well in practice?

FM: Senior Captain Chris Gumbs has made a jump in fitness and confidence since the Pier Park meet. The training room staff has done a great job working with Chris and he seems to have made progress in dealing with a few nagging injuries that have been holding him back.

TS: Seniors Veronica Vazquez and Noelle Lopez have both looked sharp in recent weeks. Both runners are running with confidence and enjoying a very healthy season.

SCU: Looking towards the future, are there a few newcomers who are also running well?

FM: Actually, all the newcomers are looking pretty good and it feels like they have been a part of the team a lot longer than six weeks. Also, Richard Zhu, a freshman from North Medford HS, has been in our top 5 in both our races this season.

TS: Freshman Jennifer Clarke seems poised to make the greatest contribution of the young season as a potential top 5 scorer. Fellow freshmen Nicole Give and Meghan MacNamara are also top 10 runners.

SCU: You travel to Palo Alto on Saturday morning for the Stanford Invitational. What are you looking for in the Stanford meet?

FM: Stanford will be a very competitive race with a large field. Most of the NCAA Division I men's teams in the state of California plus some very good teams from other divisions and states will be competing. We are looking to improve on our last performance in Portland and continue building toward the post season.

TS: There are 37 teams in the women's 6k race. We have teams from the Big Ten, Pac 10, Big West, WAC and Big Sky. We will also meet several of our WCC foes. The veteran-laden Bronco women have targeted this meet as the most important of our non-championship races. It is a great opportunity to see how we stack up against some of the top teams in the West Region.

SCU: Your own home meet is just a few weeks away with the Bronco Invitational set to be run on Sat., Oct. 18. Why is the race big for your teams and how can fans help support your team?

TS and FM: The Bronco Invitational is on October 18th and also serves as our annual alumni BBQ and 5k run. Getting the alumni, family and friends involved and at the meet is great for our program. Our team has been really well supported by the alumni and our athlete's families. They are a key part of our growth and success. Anytime we can all get together as well as compete, it's a lot of fun. It is also the last chance for the team to prepare for the postseason in a very competitive race environment.

SCU: Midway through the season how do you feel about the leadership of your team? Both sides have some pretty good junior/senior leadership, do you agree?

FM: The men's team captains are Alex Harkins and Chris Gumbs. They are excellent students and two of our strongest runners. Both have post season experience and are outstanding leaders both directly and by example. Tom and I are very lucky to have to them help develop our young team this year.

TS: Senior leadership is thriving on the women's side. Noelle Lopez, Veronica Vazquez, Whitney Porter and Anna Wheatley are tremendous role models for our large freshmen contingent. They are all top seven performers. They lead in practice, on the race course, and in the classroom. All four girls are also very involved in community service activities.

SCU: Right now you are working hard to recruit the next class - what are a few of your selling points when you talk to potential Broncos?

FM: Each member of the team has their own unique reasons for choosing SCU. However, they all share in the belief that the outstanding academics will prepare them for a career in their chosen field or serve as preparation for post graduate study and that our program will provide them with what they need to realize their full potential as athletes. Our alumni are the best examples of why being a part of SCU cross country and track can be a very rewarding part of the college experience and serve as a crucial aspect of a student/athletes development as a whole person. They develop life-long friendships and connections and contribute tremendously to their communities and continue their involvement in the sport long after graduation.

TS: The members of our team are true student-athletes. They are very serious and dedicated runners who train year round and are committed to striving for individual and team success. They feel fortunate to be able to achieve their athletic success at such an outstanding academic institution as Santa Clara University. We have many former alumni in medical school, law school, graduate engineering, etc., at Santa Clara and other prestigious universities. Bronco student-athletes are happy to experience these things on a beautiful campus conveniently located in the heart of Silicon Valley. (San Francisco, Mountains, Beach and beautiful running trails are all minutes away. San Jose Int. Airport is 5 min. away and the CalTrain station is across the street form the University.)

We are excited to run at Stanford this weekend as we continue to prepare for the championship season.

Go Broncos!