LOOKING BACK: Lions Return to NCAAs

July 27, 2007

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With a 2006 West Coast Conference individual champion and representation at the NCAA National Cross Country Championship and NCAA Track Regionals, the LMU cross country and track programs continued to make great strides.

For the second time in six seasons, a Lion was crowned WCC Champion at the WCC Cross Country Championships. Laura Mickelson won the women's 6K title by well over a minute, crossing the line in 21:16. Mickelson led LMU to a third place team finish. The LMU men, led by Nick Brennan's top-10 performance, finished fifth. Mickelson joined LMU's Edit Pakay, who won the women's WCC title in 2001. The WCC race was Mickelson's fourth title of 2006. Kristen Gonzalez (22:51) and Abby Fall (23:14) joined Mickelson in the women's top-10, finishing sixth and ninth overall. All three earned All-WCC first-team selections for their top-10 finishes. Despite placing three runners in the top-10 for the second straight season, the women were edged by USF, who took second place by one point, outscoring LMU 52 to 53. LMU had the faster team time, but the Dons got their entire scoring five across in the top-15. The Portland women won their fifth straight team title with 36 points. The LMU women posted a team time of 114:42, an average of 22:57 for the 6K. The championship marked the first year of the 6K distance for the women's race. On the men's side, Brennan finished ninth overall in 26:05 to earn All-WCC first-team honors. Jonathan MacNeil also earned All-WCC honorable mention recognition for his 14th place finish in 26:27. Portland earned its 28th straight WCC title on the men's side, believed to be one of the longest championship streaks of any sport in the nation. USF, Santa Clara, and Gonzaga finished in the two through four spots. The LMU men finished 105 points and a team time of 134:02 for an average of 26:49.

Laura Mickelson is an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in women's track/cross country, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced in June. Mickelson becomes 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 this year, giving LMU two selections in the same year for the second time in the history of the award. Mickelson earned the second-team All-American status for her performances in the classroom, on the 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 come all while maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.95 in a double major of natural science and pre-physical therapy. She is also working toward a minor in business administration. 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.

LMU men's and women's track teams have both been named USTFCCCA Track and Field All-Academic Teams. Both teams rank among the nation's elite academic teams, with cumulative team grade point averages above a 3.2. The LMU men's track squad ranks sixth in the nation in team grade point average, posting a 3.26. The men are one of just 34 Division I teams to earn the all-academic distinction of the 297 teams sponsoring the sport. The Lion women rank 26th in the nation with a 3.3 cumulative team grade point average, placing them in the top 30 percent of the honorees. The USTFCCCA recognizes 97 teams of the 322 schools that sponsor Division I women's cross country.

Laura Mickelson landed among the nation's top-50, as she represented LMU at the NCAA National Championship in Terre Haute, Ind. The Lions' junior finished 50th overall, and fifth from the west region. Mickelson recovered from an early fall to finish the 6k in 21:38 for 50th place. It was a slow course full of standing water and mud, and Mickelson fell in the first 1000m. She returned to her feet and spent the rest of the race moving through the traffic, eventually passing a few of the runners that had topped her at the NCAA West Regional on November 11th. Mickelson's national run marked the first time in LMU history that the Lions were represented at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. She earned the individual NCAA invitation following her seventh place finish at the NCAA West Regional, where her 6k regional time of 21:19.59 earned her an USTFCCA All-Region selection. Mickelson earned the only WCC women's NCAA Championship bid.

Running in her third career NCAA West Regional event, Laura Mickelson finished the women's 5000m run in a time of 17:04.68 Friday night in Eugene, Ore. 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. LMU began sponsoring track in the spring of 2006. Mickelson, who finished fourth in the 5,000m at the 2006 NCAA regional, qualified this year with a time of 16:43.71 at the Stanford Invitational on March 31. Mickelson was one of three runners from the West Coast Conference in the event Friday night, with the other two representing WCC team cross country champion Portland.

The NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program cited LMU's men's cross country with a public recognition award for having an Academic Program Rate (APR) score that ranked among the nation's top-10 percent in the sport. The program was honored for having APR scores ranging from 975 to a perfect 1,000. The APR measures academic factors including eligibility, retention, and graduation rates. In men's cross country, LMU was one of two WCC schools to earn the NCAA recognition, joining Gonzaga in the nation's top-10 percent. Other notable men's cross country honorees included Notre Dame, Kansas, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

The LMU men's and women's track teams took down competition from around the conference at the inaugural West Coast Challenge in Malibu, Calif. 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 8. In addition to sweeping the team titles, the Lion men and women re-wrote the record books again, combining for 10 school records and 13 event winners.

LMU men's and women's cross country teams were named All-Academic teams by the USTFCCCA. The USTFCCCA also awarded Laura Mickelson All-Academic individual honors for her performances both on the course and in the classroom. The USTFCCA awards its All-Academic team distinction to cross country squads that compete in an NCAA regional meet and have at least a team GPA of 3.0 for the fall 2006 semester. The LMU men earned the distinction after posting a team GPA of 3.170. The Lion women were honored for their 3.250 team GPA. Mickelson was selected as an All-Academic individual after posting a perfect 4.0 GPA during the fall 2006 season. After winning the WCC title, the Lions' junior became the first LMU runner to qualify for the NCAA National Cross Country Championship.

The honor roll continues for Laura Mickelson, as the Lion runner was named to the 2007 USTFCCCA Women's All-Academic Track Team. Honored once again for her success both on the track and in the classroom, the accolade is added to an impressive resume for Mickelson. The USTFCCCA honors individuals for their academic and athletic achievements during the track season. To qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track and Field Team, one must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or above and obtain an NCAA automatic or provisional qualifying mark for the most recent indoor championships or an outdoor regional qualifying mark.

The 2006 WCC Fall All-Academic teams honor some of the league's finest examples of the consummate scholar-athlete. Eight LMU student-athletes, including three cross country runners, were honored as members of the WCC fall All-Academic teams. Laura Mickelson added to her honors by earning a spot on the All-Academic team. The 2006 WCC Champion was LMU's first representative at NCAA Nationals, and was a USTFCCA All-Region selection. The junior has a 3.95 GPA as a natural science major. Teammate Abby Fall also earns academic honors. She was named to the All-WCC First Team after placing ninth at the WCC Championships in 2006. She is a communication studies major with a 3.74 GPA. Jonathan MacNeil rounds out the honorees. The junior mechanical engineering major earned WCC honorable mention honors after placing 14th at the WCC Championships. He led the Lions in the Stanford Invite 8K, and has a 3.60 GPA.

Running in the second heat of the women's 5000m at the Stanford Invitational, Laura Mickelson's goal was to break 16:52, which would qualify her for the NCAA Track West Regional. With perfect running conditions, Mickelson 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. None of these obstacles stopped Mickelson, as she ran 16:43.71 to qualify the regional meet in Eugene, Ore. Her time was the third-fastest in school history and 14 seconds faster than she ran at the same meet last year.

Laura Mickelson became the first Lion ever to qualify for the NCAA National Cross Country Championships when she finished seventh in the women's 6k at the 2006 NCAA West Regional at Blue Lake Park in Gresham, Ore. Mickelson, who was crowned WCC Champion just two weeks ago to the day, earned the national bid with a time of 21:19.59. Mickelson helped the LMU women to finish 14th of 30 teams in the competitive West Region, equaling the program-best mark from a year ago. Abby Fall (23:29.10), Kristen Gonzalez (23:30.88), Brittany Rezowalli (23.37.06), and Annie Holden (24:08.89) rounded out the women's scoring five. The LMU men, led by Drew Haberkorn, finished 22nd. Haberkorn (33:17.62), Nick Brennan (33:26.56), Trevor Wiseman (33:47.16), and Mo Elmi (33:57.38) all finished under the 34-minute mark in the 10k. Reynaldo Barrera rounded out the men's scoring five in 34:45.35. Illness affected the LMU men's and women's squads, as both scoring fives were without runners who scored at the WCC Championships (Jonathan MacNeil and Claudia Bishop). MICKELSON REPEATS AS WCC RUNNER OF THE MONTH After winning the 2006 WCC Championship, Laura Mickelson was named the WCC's October Female Runner of the Month. The junior becomes the first Lion to repeat as WCC Runner of the Month, as she also won the title for the month of September.

Laura Mickelson won her third individual title of the season, as the Lions ran at the Cal Poly Invitational at the Fairbanks Cross Country Course. It was LMU's final tune-up before the WCC Championships. Mickelson finished first of 141 runners in the 5k, crossing the line in 17:34.3. The victory was her third individual title of 2006, as she also took first at the Cal State Fullerton Invitational and the SDSU Aztec Invitational. The men's squad was also led by a junior, as Nick Brennan finished the 8k seventh overall in 26:33.7. That performance led the men to finish fourth of seven teams, ahead of both WCC opponents Pepperdine (fifth) and San Diego (sixth).

Laura Mickelson was the WCC Cross Country Female Runner of the Month for the month of September. Mickelson ran in three meets during the month and won the individual title in two of them.

In one form or another, LMU came out on top in each of its first three meets of the 2006 season. The third time, it was junior Laura Mickelson, winning her second individual title of 2006 at the 62nd annual San Diego State Aztec Invitational. Mickelson led the women's squad to a third place team finish, while the men's team took fifth. Mickelson set a new LMU course record, crossing the line first in 17:19. The 17:19 was over a minute faster than her 2005 run of 18:27. Mickelson's title run also helped the Lions to a new team course record, as they finished in 94:11, eclipsing last year's 95:20. The LMU men also set new team and individual course records after finishing fifth of 15 programs. Nicholas Brennan's time of 26:53 broke the previous LMU mark set by Adam Bacon in 2004 (26:59). He finished 18th overall. The team time of 2:16:46 also became the new course record.

LMU made Saturday's USD Invitational a meet to remember when the men's squad captured the team title, marking the first time the Lions have won an invitational under ninth-year Head Coach Scott Guerrero. Racing against a field that included West Coast Conference foes Pepperdine and the host Toreros, the LMU men finished in a team time of 2:22:23.99 to take first place. The women's squad finished third, topping fourth-place San Diego by 21 points. LMU recorded a team time of 2:07:26.10.

In her first competition since running at the 2006 NCAA National Track Championships in June, Laura Mickelson picked up where she left off, winning the 2006 Cal State Fullerton Cross Country Invitational title. The title run came in the Lions' 2006 opener and led the LMU women to a second place team finish. The LMU men also posted a top-5 finish.

LMU was selected to finish second in the WCC on both the men's and women's sides, the WCC announced in its 2006 preseason coaches' poll. The second seed is the highest for the Lions in a preseason WCC poll. In addition to receiving the second seed, the women's squad earned one first place vote and 41 total points. The men's team tied San Francisco with 38 points in the poll.





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