After a couple weeks off, the Bronco cross country teams will turn it up a few notches when they travel a few miles up I-280 to run at the Stanford Invitational on Sat., Sept. 29. The men's race, an 8K, begins at 9:50 am. The women's race, a 6K, begins at 10:30 am.
In addition to Santa Clara and Stanford, ranked No. 6 on the women's side and No. 9 on the men's side, the Broncos will also face WCC rivals LMU, Saint Mary's, USF and Pepperdine. The No. 1 and 3 ranked teams in Division II will run on the men's side in Adams State and Chico State, respectively. Nationally the Adams State women are No. 2 and the Chico State women are No. 6. Other California teams will include Sac State, Cal, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.
Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro said the Stanford Invitational has an NCAA regional feel to it due to the large field of runners and stiff competition. Montoro said even if the Bronco coaches hold out a couple runners to make sure they are healthy for the post-season, he expects both teams to shoot for a top 10 finish. "This is a good chance for us to gauge ourselves against the other WCC teams and that is always useful. We are ready to run a little bit faster."
"It's still early in the season and we aren't exactly sure what we have in terms of points scorers and our own potential in the post-season so this will be a nice gauge for that. Our season is starting to build in intensity and this is a big step," added Montoro.
Montoro liked the two weeks off and thought it came at a perfect time as the Mission campus opened classes for the Fall quarter on Sept. 17. "It gave us two good weeks of training to help us build towards the post-season and also helped everyone adjust to school," said Montoro. "We were training at 9 am the first four weeks, but now that school is in session we are training at 7 am."
When the team trains at 7 am, they either drive to one of the local trails or run at the San Jose Rose Garden on the grass (three minutes form campus). "It's a really good place to train. It's nice because it's one of the few times we run from campus and the surface is soft. It simulates what a lot of our places we run in the championship season. It is the best rose garden in the country. It won the award," said Santa Clara assistant coach Pete Cushman.
The two weeks off is an ideal time off for Cushman because he said it gets the team the right amount of mental rest to get re-engaged. "It also helps us to focus on training for a week and work on those things we need to. After two weeks, the team is itching to race again," said Cushman.
Montoro is looking for redshirt-freshman Bryan Crook to continue to excel in his second 8K. "Bryan has looked great in training and has a lot of talent," said Montoro.
In addition to those two, Montoro hopes Kevin Oliver is ready to go after battling the injury bug lately.
On the women's side, Cushman believes the training is going really well. "They are executing their workouts right. They are a healthy, good and strong cohesive group," said Cushman.
Both coaches said Mary Kriege is looking really good. Cushman said both the Germany twins, Lauren and Kayla, have been training consistently well and are healthy. Hayley Ney and Allie Sibole also drew both coaches praises. "We have a lot of strength in our numbers and our depth offers us a lot of weapons," said Montoro.