October 29, 2009

Cross Country Prepares for WCC Championship

Oct. 29, 2009

The Santa Clara's cross country teams will put it on the line this weekend at the West Coast Conference Championships. The meet will be run at Crystal Springs in Belmont, Calif. on Sat., Oct. 31. The men's race, an 8K, will begin at 9 am and the women's race, a 6K, starts at 9:45 am.

The 2009 WCC Cross Country Championships Central site (http://wccsports.cstv.com/ot/09-wcc-xc-tourney-central.html) is now live on the official WCC website (www.WCCsports.com). You can find a link to it on the splash page and on the side box found on the Cross Country page.

The Bronco women were third last year and the men were fourth. This year they were picked fourth on both sides. Regardless of their WCC finish, each cross country team will advance to the NCAA West Regional - hosted by Oregon and held on Sat., Nov. 14 in Springfield, Ore.

Both juniors Robbie Reid and Stephanie Wilson were named the WCC Runner of the Month in September after breaking school records and Wilson's win at the Sac State Invitational. Neither has let down the pace in the month of October. Reid won the Bronco Invitational two weeks ago and Wilson finished as the top collegiate in finishing as the runner-up, breaking the Invite record.

Associate Head Coach Felipe Montoro is pleased with the progress Reid has made this season after running to All-WCC honors last year. "He is healthy. Both Robbie and the team are 100 percent focused on what we need to do to run our best race and not factors we can't control. If Robbie can do that he has a decent shot at the title."

"His junior year has gone even better than we thought he would be. He is ahead of where we expected him to be," said Montoro, who also added he could leave as Santa Clara's best male distance runner ever if he keeps up his harrier pace.

Head coach Tom Service gushes when he talks about Wilson - who has made huge strides with the Broncos the last couple years - and is working hard not to overflow with spurlatives when he talks about the Mitty graduate.

"We are trying to stay in the moment, which we didn't do last year. Stephanie, like Robbie, had really successful track seasons and that catapulted them to a great summer of training. With their success, they have gained confidence. They are both headed to the WCC Championships with a very positive attitude. I can say 1,000 things about Stephanie, but I don't want to say them," Service said with a smile.

Santa Clara trains on and off at Crystal Springs, but its more of their daily training runs that help them understand how tough the WCC Championship course is.

"We run hills everyday - Rancho San Antonio Park, Alum Rock Park, Quicksilver Park, Huddart Park - where we run 10-12 miles on a daily basis - are hilly courses," said Service. "It helps the Broncos because it's challenging. The long distance type of training we do lends us to being ready for a really tough championship course."

"If we can execute the race plan and the objectives we know we are capable of, we will be pleased with the results," said Montoro.

Montoro mentioned junior Chris Sampson, senior captain Alex Harkins and fifth-year senior Brian Fisher who brings a lot of experience and heart to the race. He said Fisher has made long strides with the program in coming back from injury in the last year.

"We are counting on some freshmen to continue their improvement. They have improved each race this year and I expect them to do the same on Saturday," continued Montoro.

Service said the women's league this year - there are six competitive teams - will be competitive. "There are several teams ranked regionally and so it will be a tough race. We have our hands full, but I like our chances - we have a really good attitidue going in."

Besides Wilson, the women are dependent on diaper dandies, including two true freshmen - Mary Reynolds and Cary Parker - and another redshirt-freshman, Erin McCarthy.

"Melissa Conlin was All-WCC as a freshman and she is on the comeback trail after injury," said Service. "She has a little gleam in her eye - she is out to prove something."

Service and Montoro have a little gleam in their eyes too - so look out Crystal Springs!