On Track to Successful Season: 2008 LMU Track Preview
The Lions will look to improve on last year's very successful season in 2008.
Feb. 11, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - In just its third officially sanctioned season of track and field in Loyola Marymount history, the Lions will look to improve on a very successful season in 2007. In its first year of sponsoring track, Head Coach Scott Guerrero took LMU all the way to the 2006 NCAA National Championship, and last season, senior Laura Mickelson represented LMU at the NCAA Regionals.
Running in her third career NCAA West Regional event, Mickelson finished the women's 5000m run in a time of 17:04.68 in Eugene, Ore. on May 25. While that mark left her in the region's top-15, it was not enough to earn her the NCAA Championship bid. Facing a field of 20 women, Mickelson was looking for the top-5 finish that would qualify her for the NCAA National Championship for a second straight season. While her 15th place finish left her short of that goal, Mickelson again gave the Lions NCAA Regional representation in just the program's second campaign. Mickelson was one of three runners from the West Coast Conference in the Regional, with the other two representing Portland.
Mickelson, who finished fourth in the 5,000m at the 2006 NCAA regional, qualified last year with a time of 16:43.71 at the Stanford Invitational on March 31. Running in the second heat of the women's 5000m at the event, she competed hard from the start in the large 29-person field. With so many talented runners in the field, everyone was tightly bunched, jockeying for position, but Mickelson managed to avoid a potentially devastating fall at the 1600m mark. Her time was the third-fastest in school history and 14 seconds faster than she ran at the same meet a year prior.
At the inaugural West Coast Challenge on February 24 in Malibu, Calif., the LMU men's and women's track teams dominated competition from around the conference. The competition featured teams from around the WCC, including host Pepperdine (women only), Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. San Diego also participated, although it did not field a complete team. The WCC does not officially sponsor a conference championship in the sport of track and field, so the meet was billed as an "unofficial" conference championship and bragging rights were on the line. Scoring as a double dual format, the Lion men easily defeated both USF (56-27) and SCU (65-13). The women were equally impressive, defeating USF (49-27), SCU (61-20) and Pepperdine (48-38). In overall tri-meet scoring, the men easily took the title, scoring 57 points to USF's 30 and SCU's 13. In quad-meet scoring, the women narrowly defeated Pepperdine 44-41, but easily outdistanced USF's 24 and Santa Clara's eight.
After a stellar season last year, the LMU record books were re-written on both the men's and women's sides. The men erased 19 records in 2007, led by Trevor Wiseman's five new marks. Wiseman broke LMU records in the 1,500m (3:57.80), mile run (4:21.96), two-mile run (9:34.81), 3,000m (8:40.49) and 5,000m (14:58.57). Jon Hornberger and Adam Stebbins, who each hold two LMU records, also return for the Lions. Hornberger is the record-holder in the 60m (6.99) and 100m (11.17). Stebbins holds the top-spot at the 200m (22.70) and 400m (49.60) distances. Keyon Mitchell returns after a season in which he set two LMU records in the long jump and triple jump, posting marks of 22'05" and 46'09.50", respectively. Andrew Hirning is the final LMU returning record-holder. The sophomore holds the best time in the 3,000 steeplechase with a mark of 11:11.95. The Lion men also broke three relay school records last year: the distance medley (10:41.85), the 4x100m (43.54), and the 4x400m (3:31.34). This season, LMU will be without record-holders Dominic Quiller, who broke records in the 110m, 300m and 400m hurdle events last year, and Reynaldo Barrera, who set the record in the 800m with a time of 1:56.19.
On the women's side, LMU broke 12 records last season, highlighted by Melani Hom's and Gabrielle Hybki's three new records each. Hom, who ran in her senior year last season, set the bar in the 400m (1:01.43), 800m (2:15.04) and 400m hurdles (1:08.39). Hybki, who is in her sophomore season this year, set records in the 100m (14.13), 200m (29.02) and the high jump (5'05"). Mickelson returns after setting two new records in 2007, thus claiming five total records in the LMU books. The standout senior broke records in the two-mile run (10:28.87) and 10,000m (34:53.16) last season, while already holding the record in the 1,500m (4:34.42) 3,000m (9:53.57) and 5,000m (16:30.04). The Lion women also broke a pair of relay school records last season: the 4x100m (56.96) and the 4x400m (4:14.96). Like the men, the LMU women will be without two of their record-holders from last season. Kristen Gonzalez, who broke the record in the mile run with a time of 5:09.02, and Claudia Bishop, the school record-holder in the 3,000m steeplechase at 11:40.00, are not on the 2008 roster.
"Our philosophy is and always has been to improve every year and this season should be no different. I'm very excited about the group that we have this year," Head Coach Scott Guerrero said. "Our distance athletes are coming off one of our best seasons ever in cross country and our sprinters and jumpers are another year older and wiser. Add to that mix a number of talented newcomers to the squad and I would say that we are `on track' for our best season yet."
In addition to impressive performances on the athletic playing fields, LMU also carried its weight in the classroom. Both the men's and women's teams were named USTFCCCA Track and Field All-Academic Teams. Both teams ranked among the nation's elite academic teams, with cumulative team grade point averages above a 3.2. The LMU men's track squad ranked sixth in the nation in team grade point average, posting a 3.26. The men were one of just 34 Division I teams to earn the all-academic distinction of the 297 teams sponsoring the sport. The Lion women ranked 26th in the nation with a 3.3 cumulative team grade point average, placing them in the top 30 percent of the honorees.
Individually, Mickelson was named an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in women's track/cross country last June. Mickelson became the eighth Lion in any sport to earn an academic All-American selection. Mickelson and water polo player Stacia Peterson both earned academic All-America honors last year, giving LMU two selections in the same year for the second time in the history of the award. She earned the second-team All-American status for her performances in the classroom, on the cross country course, and on the track. She advanced to the All-American pool after earning All-District first-team honors. A fall NCAA National Cross Country Championship berth and spring NCAA West Track Regional appearance highlighted her athletic resume for the year. Her athletic accomplishments came all while maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.95 in a double major of natural science and pre-physical therapy. The CoSIDA selections are made from athletes who meet criteria, including a minimum 3.2 cumulative grade point average with sophomore standing and significant athletic contributions to their team.
With key athletes returning, along with some new impressive legs entering this year, the 2008 Lions will look to set new benchmarks en route to a third straight NCAA regional appearance and another shot on the national stage. When asked about the 2008 schedule, Guerrero said, "we will run a few `practice' meets in February to help us round into shape and see what we've got, but we expect to come out swinging on March 1 at the West Coast Challenge meet at Pepperdine against our conference rivals."
The Lions began their season on February 9 at the Northridge All-Comers invite, and immediately made strides in improving on last season's outstanding performance. Freshman Tara Erdmann broke the school record in the Mile Run (5:02.99), senior Katie Osborne of the LMU soccer team set two school records in the 60m dash (7.79) and the 200m dash (26.78), and freshman Chelsea Wirschem established a new school record in the women's long jump (33'11.25").
On the men's side, Wiseman broke his own record in the two-mile, running the distance in 9:29.00. In addition, freshman Matt Duncan ran a new school record in the 300m hurdles at 43.20.
Reiterating his vision for the 2008 campaign, Guerrero said, "Taking into account that a number of our athletes came in significantly ahead of where they were at this same time last year, I think we are going to have a very exciting season."
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