The Bronco cross country teams will race 20 of their most fit and healthy runners, 10 on each side, at the Stanford Invitational Sat., Sept. 24. The men's race begins at 10:50 a.m. and the women's race will be held at 11:30 a.m. after the high school race. Click here for the start list and results.
While Santa Clara has a couple of races under its belt at this time according to the schedule, Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro sees Stanford as the start of the regular season for the Bronco squads and the volume will be turned up on the men's side as host-Stanford is ranked No. 3 nationally. "We consider the first two races the preseason. They're important and they help build on race tactics and figure out who's fit and who's not and what we need to work on. The season really starts this weekend because for the NCAA this is the first weekend you can actually get points towards qualifying towards NCAAs so traditionally this is the first weekend where people start running hard."
It's been very hot in the Bay Area this week, with temperatures in the 80s in San Francisco and mid-90s in the South Bay. Montoro said the team has had to alter its training a bit due to the heat, but must be ready for it this weekend as well. "It's supposed to be around 80 degrees which should be nicer. But it always feels very hot out there because it's really exposed on the golf course and they water it before so it's humid, but whatever, it's been hot all week."
Montoro believes it's still kind of early to know exactly where they are at as a team. "This weekend will be a good gauge for us. We know where we want to be in the post season, and this is the first of many tests leading up to the postseason to accurately asses our fitness against quality competition. We can then see what we need to address and what we need to work on so we're ready for WCCs and the NCAA regional meet."
The men return a more veteran group, but the women's team offers an interesting dynamic because a couple of upperclassmen that are going to be major factors on the team this year have been injured in the past or don't have that much experience. "On the women's side we do have quite a few freshmen and sophomores that are competing, freshman Mary Kriege has really been running well so far this season," said Montoro. "Inexperience is definitely an accurate description of the team as a whole this season. But there is some experience in there. Erin McCarthy ran the WCC and regional meets well last year, Nicole Giove has run in the postseason a few times, Mary Reynolds was all conference her freshman year. Carey Parker will be racing this weekend and all the new faces as well. For the women it's even more of figuring out where we're at and what we need to do to stay relevant in the WCC. The conference is loaded with talent."
The men's team has a bit of a different feel to it with Robbie Reid returning for a fifth season after redshirting last year. Reid, Ben Demaree, Austin Jones and Luca Signore have put themselves at the front of the Bronco men's pack. "Those four guys are looking really good and will hopefully run at the front of the race this weekend and the other six guys are also in really good shape and we'll see who can start closing the gap to become the all important fifth runner every cross country team needs," added Montoro.
Montoro said the top four men have distanced themselves with some of their training this summer. "Those four guys are where they're at because they trained really hard this summer. Austin and Robbie really dedicated themselves to finding out what they could do this year and ran upwards of a 100 miles a week in Tahoe at altitude. They rented a cabin and just lived the life of a distance runner, we'll see how it pays off later in the year. They gave themselves a great shot at having a memorable final season. Ben was working full time in Vancouver (Wash.) and running 95 miles a week. Luca was around here and was running 80 something miles a week which for him was a big jump from where he'd been before. Really though, the whole team trained way harder as a group that we ever have before. A bunch of guys were running 80, 90, 100 miles a week. I am very pleased with the summer they put in." Click here to see Robbie Reid Talk about Stanford, Training This Summer and the Weather.
Looking back, last week the teams went on their annual training trip to New Brighton State Beach. They camped out, did a number of hard workouts in the forest and also bonded with each other and worked on their mission statement for this season. Montoro said they did some bench-mark workouts and they went really well compared to last year's results and that encourages him. "It's just a blast, and we get to run a lot which is also what we're out there to do. It went really well. They really had fun together." Click here to see Video Highlights of the Team's Training Trip
Montoro said the team's return to classes this week is always a shock to the system. "It's kind of a rough transition when we return for the fall quarter. The first month of training they are just running, sleeping and hanging out and now they go back to the real world, but so far so good."