Nov. 6, 2009
For the second straight month, a first in Santa Clara cross country history, junior Stephanie Wilson has been named the West Coast Conference Women's Runner of the Month. Wilson won the WCC cross country title, another first in school history, last weekend.
Wilson finished as runner-up, the first collegiate, at the Bronco Invitational on Oct. 17. She broke the school record and the course record. Wilson's time of 16:53 smashed her personal best time by more than a minute. She followed up two weeks later by winning the WCC Cross Country, tying the WCC course record at 20:32. It was also a personal best and a school record. More impressive about her finish at the WCC meet - two years ago she wasn't on the team's seven-deep depth chart for the meet.
"From the standpoint of the season, and the workouts I've been doing, I wasn't really surprised by the success I've had in races this year because I expected to perform well. But, thinking about how my life has progressed these past years, I'm still really surprised by it all," said Wilson. "I never would have expected to be running this fast and competing this well. I've really realized how important all the people in my life have been to get me where I am right now. I never would've ended up here without a lot of help and support from my family, coaches, friends and teammates. And I really mean that - not in a cheesy way, but thanking them for their support genuinely."
Bronco head coach Tom Service wasn't overstating the obvious when he called Wilson `the most dominate female cross country runner in the WCC this year'. Wilson has had four races this season. She won the Sac State Invitational, finished top 10 in the very competitive Stanford Invitational, was the runner-up in the Bronco Invite (first collegiate) and then won the WCC title.
"We knew that she would have a successful season - her level of fitness hasn't surprised me - but her success and her mental preparation has been surprising," said Service who added her preparation bodes well for the NCAA Regional in Oregon on Sat., Nov. 14.
Santa Clara will run in the NCAA Regional, hosted by Oregon, on Sat., Nov. 14. Wilson and junior Robbie Reid both have a chance to qualify as individuals for the NCAA Championships Mon., Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind. If either qualifies, it would be another HUGE first for the school.
"I sort of go from getting really excited to feeling nervous to forgetting about it all," said Wilson. "I'm trying to just get through this week right now. I know that if I keep doing what I've been doing all season, then the rest should take care of itself."
Service said he and Wilson have talked about the results of the other conference championship and identified the girls who will be competing with Wilson for one of the four individual spots. "She is right there. She is running very consistent and we are just hoping she has the same mental preparation on race day by executing her race plan as she has had the other four races this season."
Off the track, Service raved about her leadership as well. "She is a great role model. It's especially gratifying to see her develop because the younger team runners see her as someone who wasn't a big high school star and think `Wow I had times faster than her in high school - so if I work hard, focus and dedicate myself I too could become a conference all-first team or even champion'."
Santa Clara looks back to former leaders like 2005 WCC runner-up Shannon Bell, Rhodes Scholar Noelle Lopez, former co-captains Veronica Vazquez and Whitney Porter - the list goes on and on - as to why the program continues to get better each year. It's a fact Wilson acknowledges with pride.
"Right now, we are at a turning point in our program," added Wilson. "I think the momentum has been building for the past four or five years, and now we're ready to make the next step. I hope that I've shown the freshmen that anything is possible, and in the next years we will have more Santa Clara champions."