SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara cross country begins its 2015 season with the USF Invitational at Golden Gate Park's Hellman Hollow Meadow Saturday. The women's 5k race is set for 9:30 a.m., followed by the men's 8k race at 10:15 a.m.
"The USF invite has been a great way to kick off the season every year," head coach Felipe Montoro said. "Our main objectives for Saturday are for our freshmen to have a positive first collegiate race experience and to work on pack running."
On the women's side, the Broncos return team captain and senior Mary Kriege, who redshirted cross country season before breaking school records in the 5000m and 10000m races during the spring. Kriege also owns the second-fastest 6k time (21:02) and the third-fastest 5k time (17:29) in school history. Sophomore Grayson Murphy and redshirt sophomore transfer Heather LaPlante (Northern Arizona) are expected to be on the front line with Kriege this fall.
"I feel that those three can compete for all-conference honors at the WCC Championships," Montoro said.
Santa Clara welcomes six new members of the women's team this season: LaPlante, Jamie Ferris, Bevin McCullough, Julia Green, Grace Ling and Julia Wood. Montoro noted that sophomore Hannah Wood and a pair of freshmen in McCullough and Ferris had healthy, productive summers, and all three are looking great in preseason practice.
"I am also excited for senior Camille Dyer to compete," Montoro said. "She had a tremendous summer and has been running well in practice also. There will be opportunities for other athletes to contribute in the postseason, and I look forward to watching that process unfold."
On the men's side, redshirt senior and team captain Bryan Crook has improved his strength and health each season at Santa Clara. The Los Altos, Calif. native owns the third fastest 8k time in school history (24:15), a mark he set at the 2014 Bronco Invitational.
"This summer, Bryan was able to put in almost twice the amount of work than past seasons," Montoro said. "He is ready to challenge the best runners in the conference."
Montoro added that co-captain Joey Berriatua also put in his biggest summer by a large margin and looks like he is ready to run with Crook. The two captains, along with Ryan Greenough, are expected to lead the way for Santa Clara and could challenge for all-conference honors by finishing in the top 15 individual runners at the WCC Championships.
Joining Santa Clara's veterans are a talented and accomplished class of 12 runners: Austin Blankenship, Carson Bode, Wilder Boyden, Aaron Brumbaugh, Ross Corey, Fernando Gonzalez, Evan Misuraca, John O'Hagan, Jack Prazich, Jeff Stalun, Brenden Stone and Jean Baptiste Tooley.
"The competition for the remainder of the postseason roster is going to determine whether or not we can improve on our 5th place WCC finish from 2014," Montoro said. "I think we have the athletes to do it and I can't wait to watch them get after it in Spokane."