Santa Clara Cross Country 2014 Season in Review
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara cross country made the most of its home races and road trips during the 2014 season, consistently setting personal best marks and rewriting a pair of school records along the way. The Broncos took advantage of a schedule that featured three meets at Sunnyvale's Baylands Park, along with races in Minnesota and Montana to shine at home and gain experience on the road throughout the fall.
"This was the best men's team we have had in a long time at SCU, maybe ever," Bronco head coach Felipe Montoro said. "They worked as hard as anyone and were very good at running to their full potential on race day.
"It was very exciting following our women's progression throughout the season. The women gained fitness, experience and confidence all season and are in a great position to continue the upward trend this spring and into next year."
Santa Clara fielded a talented and veteran men's team that entered the year with a combined 19 seasons of cross country experience between top seven runners Joey Berriatua, Bryan Crook, Ryan Greenough, Adrian Hinojosa, Sean Roe, Kurt Ruegg and Peter Stephens. The men took second place at their second meet of the season — the West Coast Conference Preview Meet at Baylands Park — and Ruegg placed second overall.
The Broncos set a pair of school records and had four runners PR at the 2014 West Coast Conference Championships. Ruegg set a school record by running 23:53 at the conference championships, while the Bronco men's team (Ruegg, Crook, Hinojosa, Berriatua and Greenough) set a school record with an average time of 24:30 in the 8k race.
"We try not to focus on time, but only on place when evaluating our performances, particularly in cross country," Montoro said. "However, we did run our home course three times this year and the men got faster every time. We were ranked seventh in the preseason WCC poll and ended up fifth — nearly beating USF for fourth at the WCC meet. Any way one looks at it, it was a very successful season."
For the Bronco women's team, Emily Robinson sat out the fall campaign due to injury and Mary Kriege used her redshirt to get healthy and develop a more consistent training regimen. This created opportunities for seasoned runners to take on leadership roles and younger runners to gain experience between the core of Christine Cremer, Audrey Hiatt, Kaitlyn Kuehn, Allison Maio, Allison Martinez, Grayson Murphy, Amia Nash, Kelly Ryan and Hannah Wood.
Ryan, a senior, and Murphy, a freshman, led the way throughout the season. Ryan ran the team's fastest 6k time at the WCC Preview Meet and placed in the top two among Bronco runners in five of her seven races. Murphy, in her first season as a cross country runner, ran the fastest Bronco time in five of seven races and finished the season with the team's fastest time in four straight events. The Salt Lake City native's personal best 21:31 at the women's 6k of the West Coast Conference Championships was roughly 1:15 faster than her individual season average. All of Santa Clara's top five finishers at the conference meet —Murphy, Ryan, Wood, Kuehn and Nash — set personal best marks.
"Our senior leaders stepped up when it mattered most and the inexperienced younger runners followed suit," Montoro said. "What stands out about the women's race is how well they rose to the challenge of running their best at home for the WCC Championships."
In addition to running close to home three times, the Broncos also hit the road for their first competitions outside the West Coast since 2011. Ryan Greenough led the men's team by running an 8k time of 25:56 at the highly-competitive Roy Griak Invitational, which Montoro said was the junior's best race of his Santa Clara career. Murphy led the Bronco women at the Montana Invitational with a 6k time of 18:48.
"[Assistant coach Pete Cushman] and I feel like we had a nice balance of local and out-of-town competitions," Montoro said. "Both teams gained a lot of competitive experience and were able to strengthen their team bonds as a result of our travel competitions this year.
"Both teams only graduate two of our top seven from this year's WCC Championship teams — we should be even stronger next year."
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