The Santa Clara University Track team wrapped up its regular season last weekend at the West Coast Invite at Willamette University. Senior Kevin Oliver continued his outstanding season with another personal best and another school record, covering 3.1 miles of the track in 14:27.81 seconds. The women head into the summer capping off one of its most successful track seasons in school history as the women added new marks to every event top 10 list from 800 meters through 10k.
Oliver, has set a new personal best in every event he's competed in this spring, and now boasts to school records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and also graces the top 10 list in the 1,500 meter run.
"Kevin is having one of those magical seasons," said Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro. "Setting a new best in every race is an accomplishment, and we're hoping he gets one more chance to improve on his 10k mark."
The always entertaining Oliver summed up his race experience best, noting that he "lunged at the opportunity for a new best like a sick meerkat going after a zinc-enriched shrew."
Oliver, who now sits 51st on the men's NCAA West Region Championships 10k list, will have to wait out the week to see who declares for the NCAA first round hosted by the University of Texas next week. The top 48 declared athletes will be invited to the first round.
"Historically this mark has always advanced, but each year the bar is raised, so we'll have to wait and see," said Montoro. "Last year the 60th man listed made it into the round of 48, so we're hoping for a similar mark this year."
Junior Peter Stephens had a big breakthrough in the same event, finishing fourth in his section, in 15:08.24. His performance knocked 12 seconds off his previous best, and caps the end of a very successful season, which included another huge personal best in the 1,500 meter event just one week earlier. Stephens covered a gap that was created in the first five laps of the 12.5 lap race, and managed to hang in with a group lingering off the lead. As the race approached it's most challenging point, Stephens struck at the opportunity and managed to pick off several competitors falling off the pace in the last mile.
"Petey really asserted himself into this race," said Montoro. "He took advantage of this opportunity and made the most of it. Petey has improved so much since making the team, I am really proud of him. This is a great way to finish the year, and a nice motivator heading into summer training for next fall."
Adrian Hinojosa became the fastest freshman Bronco in school history over the metric mile distance, covering 1,500 meters in 3:56.76. Hinojosa ran is second PR in three weeks, and finished under four minutes for the second time in his young collegiate career.
Junior Lauren Germany kicked her way to a win over the last 400 meters of her 5k heat, running 17:52.02. Germany helped lead two other Bronco women to top six finishes in the first section.
"Lauren again showed she can win most any race if she's within a second or two of the leader heading into the final lap," said Montoro. "She has a fantastic kick, and as she continues to get more consistent with her training, she'll have more opportunities to be in the mix at that point to take advantage of her speed."
The race marked the end for two very accomplished Bronco student-athletes who graduate at the end of this spring quarter. Seniors Erin Hartwig and Hayley Ney leave the program having left their mark on the 800, 1500, and 5k lists.
"We are thrilled with the careers that Hayley and Erin had with us at Santa Clara," said Montoro. "They embody everything we hope for in a Santa Clara student-athlete. They are outstanding students, great people, extremely hard working and well-respected by their peers and the athletic department. We were lucky to have them in Bronco uniforms, and I think we'll see the impact they had on the growth of this program for years to come."