Hosting a field of 31 teams from seven states, the Bronco Invitational Cross Country meet on Sat., Oct. 16 is the biggest and brightest field in school history. The Bronco Invite, which is free to the public, will be run at Baylands Park in Santa Clara, Calif. It is the 2010 debut of Bronco cross country All-American Stephanie Wilson, the defending WCC champion. Two-time defending champion Long Beach State will also make a run at its third straight title.
The Bronco Invitational will begin with a Women's Open at 9 am and be followed by the Women's Invitational at 9:45 pm. The Men's Open will begin at 10:30 am with the Men's Invitational following at 11:15 am.
The list of teams running include: Academy of Art, American River, Boise State, Cal, Cal State East Bay, Chico State, CSMUB, Delta College, Dominican, Fresno State, Hawaii, Holy Names, Idaho State, Lamar, Long Beach State, Nevada, New Mexico, Northwest Nazarene, Notre Dame de Namur, Pepperdine, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Jose State, San Francisco State, Simpson, Stanford, UC Davis, UCLA, UCSC, UNLV, USF and Santa Clara.
"We are really excited for the 2010 Bronco Invitational. It keeps gaining popularity every single year. The dry weather will be great and it should be a great day for running. We expect for it to be about 70 degrees for the races," said Bronco head coach Tom Service.
Service said the Bronco Invite has gained in popularity on the West Coast for a number of reasons, including terrific conditions. "It's a flat, fast course and it's two weeks before everyone's conference championship starts. It's exactly what they're looking for," said Service. "Coaches want their kids to run something not too difficult two weeks before conference, but something very fast so they can build confidence. Aside from the great competition, it's a great day because it's a big alumni event; it's our Bronco Bench event for the year. Most of the kids' parents come to this meet because if you're not hurt, you are running in the Bronco Invitational or the Open. And we have a big family and alumni barbeque after. So it's just a great day."
Associate head coach Felipe Montoro, who oversees the men's cross country program, said Baylands is a very spectator-friendly course because its a loop. "If you stay at the start/finish area, you will see the athletes twice every mile. For most cross country courses it's hard to see what's going on, you see them leave and finish and that's it," said Montoro. "This course is ideal for someone to watch almost the whole race from the same area."
"For our invitational, you wouldn't even have to run from side to side. Spectators can walk fast and see the athletes between five and seven times," said Service.
Service said the women have been waiting for this race all year. Due to injuries, it will be the first time that the Broncos unveil the team that should be the championship team at the end of the year and team will be in full force this meet after a win at the Gator Invitational last weekend. "Stephanie will open her season here. Erin McCarthy has been injured and will be opening as well. Both Mary Reynolds and Erin Hicks did run once at the beginning of the year, but they haven't run much since," said Service. "I look forward to us being a lot more competitive than we've been in the earlier meets this year. Some girls have stepped up this year that I wouldn't have thought would step up if they didn't have the opportunity to be team leaders this past few weeks. People like Megan McNamara, Hayley Ney and some of the freshman, Allie Sibole and Erin Hicks. They might have taken more of a reserved role if our leaders were running every single week. It's worked in our favor overall."
On the men's side Montoro sees it as their last opportunity to run everybody together and figure out the best combination of runners who will be heading into the post-season. "It's kind of a similar situation that the women have had all year, but we are going to keep going with it," said Montoro. The men have been without Robert Reid and Chris Sampson, two of their all-conference runners, this season because they are redshirting. "It's been really exciting to see some of the younger guys step up and run really well especially Kevin Oliver, Ben Demaree and Austin Jones."
"Some of the women are finding out if they make the WCC team or not; that's two weeks away and so that part of the Bronco is very exciting," said Service. "We use this as an important factor to see who the top teams are and who is running fast right now."
"The competition is the best we will have yet so that's exciting that the Bronco Invitational is growing in popularity among the top universities," said Montoro.