Nov. 14, 2009
After being honored with the school's first female Rhodes Scholar last year, the women's cross country team has another HUGE first as junior Stephanie Wilson (San Jose, Calif./Archbiship Mitty) qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championship today with her sixth place finish at the NCAA West Regional. Wilson's finish, in very muddy conditions in Oregon, was the best ever by a Bronco as well and she was the top finisher in the state of California as well.
The NCAA Cross Country Championships are Mon., Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Wilson ran a 21:01.30 finish sixth overall - one place ahead of two-time All-American Katie Follett from UW. Only three runners from No. 1 Washington - the defending national champion - and two runners from No. 5 Oregon finished ahead of her. Washington won the region and Oregon was second.
"I felt really good. It felt like we went out really slow in the first mile - almost like a tempo run. We picked it up in the second mile and much more so in the third mile. It was really fun," said Wilson, who won the WCC title two weeks ago. "I got passed in the final 20 yards, but I was so excited with my finish and so honored to qualify now for the NCAA Championship."
Asked if Wilson expected to qualify for the NCAA Championship when the season started in August, she laughed and said `no way' with a big smile. "It was something I was shooting for next year, but as the season went on this year, I thought I had a chance. I've never been to Indiana and honestly, I can't wait. The race is on a Monday so we'll have to change up my training a bit, but Tom and I are already working on that. I'm just so honored."
Bronco head coach Tom Service was practically speechless after the race - which was attended by many Bronco supporters. "What an unbelievable performance by an unbelievable girl," said Service. "She was running tough with All-Americans the whole way. She executed the race plan perfectly and she was fearless. We thought she should start out in the top 20 and then move up to the top 10, but because of the conditions, the first pack had 40 or so. She is tough and ran so well."
The WCC men's runner-up, Bronco junior Robbie Reid finished 51st overall at 32:01.06 - the best finish ever for a Santa Clara men's runner.
Service said it was an off-day for Reid who may have let the muddy conditions get to him. "He has hasn't run in the mud all year and it might have gotten to him after the second mile. But he has had a fantastic season. He did everything we asked him to do this year. I am really proud of him."
The men were 16th - their best finish in years; and the women were 19th - finishing a place ahead of Southern California.
For the men, Chris Sampson was the second runner in 70th place (32:28.45); Alex Harkins was the third runner in 106th place (33:26.21), Evan Hennessey was the fourth runner in 116th place (33:39.43) and Kevin Oliver was the final Bronco scorer in 122nd place (33:50.63).
"The men's finish was as good as expected. Robbie led the team well all year. Chris ran tough. Alex was tough as usual considering how much training he has had to miss due to injury," said Service.
For the women, whose five of seven women running were running in their first NCAA West Regional meet, Wilson was sixth; the second-best finisher for the Broncos was Mary Reynolds, in 95th place (22:59.32); the third runner was Nicole Giove in 122nd place (23:34.62); the fourth runner was Erin McCarthy in 131st place (23:44.31) and the final Bronco scorer was Erin Hartwig in 146th place (24:08.58).