Already into the third weekend of cross country season, the Santa Clara distance teams will travel south this weekend to run in the WCC Preview meet in Malibu. Pepperdine will host the West Coast Conference Championship on Nov. 2 as well. The Broncos will compete against host-Pepperdine, San Diego, LMU, Saint Mary's, Pacific (women only) and Long Beach State.
Alumni Park is already one of the most picturesque places on Pepperdine campus as it overlooks the Pacific Ocean, but the venue's beauty will only be heightened on Saturday by the "Waves of Flags" display, where 3,000 flags have been installed to remember the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. The cross country course will take the runners right by the flags.
The women's 6k race will be at 9 a.m., followed by the men's 8k at 10 a.m. Admission for spectators at the main entrance of Alumni Park will be $5.
Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro said he and the team are looking forward to running down in Malibu this weekend so they get a good preview of the same course they will run at the WCC Championship.
The women will run almost full squad after defeating Saint Mary's last weekend in the team's dual, which featured Lauren Germany, Mary Kreige and Allie Sibole finishing 1-2-3. Held out this week, Kayla Germany is recovering from a minor foot injury. She will re-join her teammates at the Stanford Invite.
The women feature an experienced squad this year with their top five scorers last weekend consisting of two seniors and three years. "The group is really dialed in right now," said Montoro. "I attribute much of that to the maturity, experience and leadership on our women's team. They know what they are capable of doing this year, and more importantly are excited about doing the work necessary to achieve their goals. Practice is really fun right now."
The men will feature a bigger squad this week. Sam Holeman, Adrian Hinojosa and Bryan Crook were all sick last weekend; and Ben Demaree won't open his 2013 season until Stanford meet on Sept. 28. "Sam is running for sure, and Adrian and Bryan will be with us on the trip," added Montoro of those running in Malibu. "Depending how they continue recovering from their illnesses this week, they will either race or do a workout on the course before the meet starts."
After running in the WCC Preview, Santa Clara will take a couple weeks off from racing to begin classes and continue to train. The next meet is at Stanford on Sept. 28. "We treat the 4-5 weeks before school starts that the team is on campus as our pre-season," said Montoro. "Every race we do all year is just preparation for the few that actually count in the post season. While Stanford and our own Bronco Invite are important for sure, in the end, they just are stepping stones to the post season."
Montoro is really pleased with the team's training thus far but said it's still really early. Being healthy and continuing to improve each week go hand in and in during cross country season. Montoro is looking for the team to be ready to compete for third or fourth place when the league meet rolls around on Nov. 2. "We have a nice blend of experience and youth. We have some depth this year, which will really help us," said Montoro. "There are about 12 healthy and fit guys competing for nine spots on the conference team and seven spots on the regional team. After this weekend, we will have a much better idea of where we stand and what we need to do before the post season rolls around."