The Santa Clara men finished third at the 2010 WCC Cross Country Championships in Crystal Springs, Calif. and the women were fourth on Saturday. It was the men's highest finish since they were third in 2007 as they finished one point ahead of LMU with 96 points. Individually, Santa Clara saw three runners race to All-WCC honors with last year's champion, Bronco Stephanie Wilson, finishing seventh.
"I am just as proud of this race as last year. I worked twice as hard this year to come back from injury and I kept my head in it. I stayed with those girls and I was able to pass someone in the final 800m and it was a great way to finish out my last race here. I am really happy that I was able to do it," said Wilson with tears in her eyes as she thought back to her career in the WCC. Wilson was sixth at the NCAA Regional Championship last year before running to the school's first-ever All-American honors at the NCAA Championships. She has battled an injury in the early part of the season and her first race was just two weeks ago. "I really had to stay focused in that race today. There were times I could have called it in, but I kept my head on straight. I never let go of that lead pack. I stayed in it until the end so I was in the position to score. This is way better than my opening race. My workouts have been getting better and better and every week I feel stronger. I am more rested and really confident going into the regional race in two weeks."
The men scored 96 points to finish third and the women scored 117 points to finish fourth, three points in front of Gonzaga. The Portland men won its 33rd straight WCC title and the USF women won again this season.
"It's very satisfying to finish third. The guys worked really hard and Loyola is a good team," said Bronco associate head coach Felipe Montoro, who coaches the men. "Really the second half, after mile three, the guys picked up a bunch of points and so we are really happy. Guys ran really tough and we had some adversity and that was a good finish for us. I wasn't surprised Ben and Austin were the top two runners. We always try to run really conservative to start and then run tough in the end. We gutted it out the entire race."
"Everyone of our women ran tough today. We had certain goals and objectives and places and we ran wisely. The early part of that race we were not in fourth place I can guarantee that and the second part of the race, every single one of the women toughed it out," said Bronco head coach Tom Service, who coaches the women. "Stephanie was looking to be top three and she could have mailed it in when she realized it wasn't going to happen. She probably ran her toughest race as a Bronco today, one of her best-ever, even if she wasn't the champion. She was ran so tough and we are really proud of her."
On the women's side, Wilson finished seventh, collecting All-WCC honors. On the men's side, freshman Ben Demaree's 11th place finish and junior Austin Jones' 13th place finish helped both earn All-WCC honors as well.
"I felt really good about the race. My goal coming in was to be top 15, all-conference," said Jones. "I wanted to out controlled for the first mile, which I felt like I did and then keep moving up. I wanted to feel like I could move up and beat some guys in the last mile and I did that. For me it's not hard to attack the hills. I've always liked hills because nobody likes hills. Everybody has to deal with it and it's hard for everybody. I have the mentality that it doesn't matter and I can beat people on them."
Jones and Demaree were Santa Clara's top two finishers on the men's side, crossing the line in 25:37 and 25:44, respectively. Sophomore Kevin Oliver was third for the Broncos in 17th place at 26:04, freshman Luca Signore was fourth at 26:07 and junior Matt Savage was fifth in 33rd place at 26:33.
"I got out pretty quickly in 4:55 in the first mile. It wasn't until the second mile I fell off a little bit out of the lead pack. I finished 11th and it feels great. It was a very consistent race for us," said Demaree.
"I went to high school near here so this is like my 15th time racing at Crystal Springs," said Signore. "It's a lot harder to run five miles than three miles like we do in high school. This wasn't my best race, but my teammates have really been there for me. I kept telling me to stay strong and make it count. It felt great."
On the women's side, Wilson was the Broncos top runner, competing in just her second race this season after battling injury. The past three WCC champions ran in the race with Tara Erdmann winning it all for LMU. Freshman Erin Hicks was 17th at 21:54, junior Erin McCarthy was 26th at 22:33, sophomore Carey Parker was fourth at 22:53 in 32nd pace and junior Meghan McNamara was 34th at 23:00. Sophomore Mary Reynolds was sixth for the Broncos in 35th place at 23:01 and freshman Allie Sibole was 41st at 23:21.
"I was really nervous because this is my first conference race and I wasn't sure exactly what girls I should be running with. In high school you know everyone on the other teams and I was friends with a lot of them. I might have gotten in the wrong pack here because of that, the third pack instead of the second pack. I never quite got up there, but I am happy with my finish because I passed some girls at the line, even with a step to go," said Hicks. "It was a lot of fun and I was very focused. There were people all over the course cheering for me, yelling 'Pass that girl!' and it felt really good."