Hosting more than 800 athletes with a number of nationally and regionally ranked teams competing from seven different states as far away as Maryland and Hawaii, the Santa Clara cross country teams host the Bronco Invitational on Sat., Oct. 15 at Baylands Regional Park in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The schedule includes a 5K Community Fun Run at 8 am with the Women's Open starting at 9 a.m., the Women's Invitational going off at 9:45 a.m., the Men's Invitational at 10:30 a.m. and the Men's Open at 11:15 a.m. The women's races will both be 5Ks and the men's races will be 8Ks.
After all four races are complete, the Bronco Bench Foundation will sponsor an alumni Bar-B-Que at Baylands Park. The Fun Run is $20 and includes a t-shirt and a ticket to the Bar-B-Que afterwards. Tickets for the Bar-B-Que are $5 otherwise. For further information on the Fun Run or the Bar-B-Que please email Chantelle Wilder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro is excited about this year's field and he should be! It features a very competitive field including members from six nationally ranked teams and nine regionally-ranked teams as well. The ranked teams bringing runners on the men's side include No. 4 Stanford, No. 8 Colorado and No. 22 UCLA. On the women's side the nationally-ranked teams bringing runners include No. 4 Colorado, No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 Cal. The men's regionally-ranked teams include No. 7 Cal Poly, No. 9 CBSU, No. 12 Idaho and No. 13 Boise State. On the women's side the regionally ranked teams include No. 8 Portland, No. 9 UC Davis, No. 9 Idaho State (Mountain Region), No. 10 Cal Poly and No. 13 Idaho.
"It will be crowded, but most events like this are. We hope to keep growing in competitiveness. In terms of regular season, this is one of the team's favorite races to run. Also it is important that they perform well because we choose the runners for conference from this race also," said Montoro who is in his eighth year at Santa Clara and his first year as the head coach. "When I got here Tom Service, the head coach, put a lot of time and effort into making the Bronco Invitational a success. Each year it grows in stature."
Both course records have a strong chance of being shattered. UC Davis Jon Peterson set the 8K course record in 2010 at 23:45. One of the elite runners looking to break the course record will be Chad Hall of UC Riverside who ran 23:18 at the Bill Dellinger Invite in Oregon a couple weeks ago.
On the women's side, the 5K course record was set by Lauren Weaver who ran 16:46 as an unattached runner in 2009. One of the women looking to top the course record is Hannah Kiser of Idaho who Bill Dellinger Invite in Oregon a couple weeks ago at 16:45.
The Men's Invitational will also feature Danny Tapia, who recently qualified for the USA Men's Olympic Marathon Trials. The Women's Invitational will feature former Bronco All-American and 2009 WCC champion Stephanie Wilson. Wilson is running for New Balance Silicon Valley these days and also working as an assistant coach on the Bronco coaching staff.
The Bronco women's cross country team has almost 20 runners competing in the two races on the relatively flat course. Seniors running their last Bronco Invitational include Monica Coen, Nicole Giove, Jenny Light, Meghan McNamara and Megan Murnane. Bronco assistant coach Chantelle Wilder is excited about the women's chances after finishing second two weeks ago at Willamette University.
"All the girls love this race because they are so familiar to the course, its flat, its fast, and we have excellent competition. There is no reason not to run fast this weekend. We hope to see our seniors perform really well for their last meet. We are looking at putting a few girls under that 18-minute barrier," said Wilder. "We are looking for an average team time closer to 18 minutes. That's our goal for the women who are in the invite. For the women in the open race, it's their last opportunity to compete at 5k distance because we will be moving up to 6k for the remainder of the races. It will help us choose our top nine to take to the WCC in a couple weeks."
The men will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance at Notre Dame a couple weeks ago. Montoro said it is a good opportunity to run fast before the conference meet and solidify who will be representing the team in the post season.
"It's exciting for the seniors who are participating to go out with a bang at their last home meet and set a PR and help the team place as high as we can," said Montoro.
In addition to the races, the day will feature many alumni. Former Bronco coach John Maloney coordinates the alumni volunteers and Montoro applauded his efforts again this year.
"There will be alumni volunteers to help run the race, as well as participate in the fun run. And they will get together and have a BBQ after the meet. There will be bout 25 alumni, maybe even more, with a good mix of recent and past graduates," added Montoro.