Feb. 23, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara track team will kickoff its third season this Saturday when they join Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and San Francisco at the WCC Challenge Cup in Malibu, Calif.
In just it's third season, the Santa Clara outdoor track program is growing steadily. Though mostly distance running, the program also features a few sprinters and new this year, the team adds a hurdler.
"We figure that we are growing a little each year," said head coach Tom Service. "I'm not sure that Santa Clara track and field will ever be as full-blown as a Pac-10 program. But we love track and field and we figure that kids who come to Santa Clara who are not distance runners might like the opportunity to participate in track and field."
Heading into the 2007 season, the track team's goals go hand in hand with cross country.
"Our track team is basically our cross country team," said Service. "Running distance races helps us to stay fit in the summer in preparation for the 2007 cross country season. Also, it's nice to be able to attack school records which have only been set in the past two years."
But according to Service, preparation for the track season is no easy task.
"Running long distances in the winter is hard," Service said. "In all my years of coaching, there has never been a time when all my players are healthy."
As such, the team is nursing a few injuries this weekend, which will likely hold a few runners out of competition. But ultimately, it's the competitive spirit brought by the student-athletes against their rival WCC schools that makes events like this weekend's WCC Challenge Cup a success.
"The kids are always competitive," Service said. "Our marks might not be our fastest, but most of the WCC coaches agreed that it was better that we all get together for a meet, even if it had to be in February." Service exclaimed, "I don't think we've ever had a meet in February!"
Look for the Broncos to field a strong distance team, which, just like cross country, will be led by Shannon Bell, Annie Murphy-Hagan and Lauren Swigart for the women, and Chris Gumbs, Mike Delaurenti and A.J. Blumel for the men.
"We like to think the longest race, the 3000 meter race for men and women is our strength," Service said. "We feel very good about our distance running program and that it is kind of the core of this team. I think we will compete well in the 3K races. The 1500 meter and the 800 should also be competitive. We have got a couple new sprinters, and we have a young lady who will compete for us for the first time as a hurdler and I think she'll do quite well also."