VAN NUYS, Calif. — Santa Clara men's cross country produced its best team finish at the West Coast Conference Championship since 2011 on Friday morning and the women matched their best mark as a group over that same stretch. Jorge Estrella led the men to a fourth-place finish and Janie Nabholz paced the women to sixth place at Woodley Lakes Golf Course.
Estrella crossed the finish line in 26th with an 8k 24:47.78 and Nabholz clocked a 6k 21:21.80, good for 16th place.
Estrella topped the men's group for the third straight race and has led SCU three times in four races this season. Harvey Chilcott (32nd – 25:06.49), Spencer Fischer (33rd – 25:06.9), Ben Davidson (35th – 25:08.82) and William Hunsdale (41st – 25:23.24) scored for the Broncos. James Konugres, Aditya Mohan, Christian Raslowsky, Brennan Lagerstrom and Nicholas Russell also competed.
SCU totaled 135 points and bested a pair of regionally-ranked sides in San Francisco (fifth place, 174 points – 12th west region) and Pepperdine (seventh place – 182 points – 14th west region). The Broncos improved on a fifth-place finish from the last two seasons and matched their 2011 effort of fourth place.
BYU went 1-2-3-5-7 to claim the team title, posting 18 points to best Portland's 51. Conner Mantz (23:33.75) was the top individual finisher.
Head coach Felipe Montoro: "I am so happy for the guys. We had targeted fourth all year and they executed our race plan perfectly. I'm most happy for our seniors who competed today; they deserved to experience our best finish in years and they were so instrumental in our team's improvements over the last few seasons. The area we have improved on the most in the last few years is our depth, and that was what we showed today and what allowed us to finish fourth."
Nabholz turned in a team-leading performance for the fifth time in five races this season. Noelani Obermeyer (31st – 21:54.18), Emma McCurry (40th – 22:06.66), Sarah King (46th – 22:17.33) and Hannah Covington (49th – 22:24.13) scored for the Broncos. Lucie Semone, Maiya Fujiwara, Ellie Kopf, Hannah Aguirre and Hope Olbricht also raced on Friday.
Santa Clara finished with 162 points and landed in a four-team stretch separated by only 15 points (San Diego – fifth – 156 points, Loyola Marymount – seventh – 165 points, Saint Mary's – eighth – 171 points).
BYU won the team title and had the top three spots overall, including individual champion Whittni Orton (19:49.27); the Cougars had 18 points and Portland finished in second place with 84.
Associate head coach Pete Cushman: "I think we ran a great combination of brave and smart and I'm really proud of this team. They're cohesive, they love the work it requires and they love running for each other and the school. We improved on last year and gave fifth a very competitive challenge. Janie stuck her nose in it racing against some of the best runners in the country. She continues to establish herself as an athlete who can ultimately make an impact at the national level. Our seniors Noe and Lucie finished their WCC careers with their best races for Santa Clara and I'm incredibly proud of them as athletes and leaders.
Santa Clara competes at the NCAA West Regional Championships (Colfax, Washington) on Friday, Nov. 15.
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