SEASON REVIEW: The End of an Era, Start of a Bright New Future

July 30, 2008

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The 2007-08 cross country and track season saw what proved to be the most successful year in program history on the men's side, and the end of an outstanding career and era, with the departure of Laura Mickelson, teamed with another successful campaign on the women's side.

Pre-WCC Championship
The men's cross country and track & field programs completed their most successful campaign ever during the 2007-2008 season.  In the fall, the cross country team started off strong by beating Pepperdine in a dual meet with a nearly perfect score of 18-43.  They went on to take third at the UC Irvine Invitational and second at Santa Clara's Bronco Invitational.

WCC Championship
The early-season invites and races were a great tune-up for the Conference Championship where the Lions continued their success.  The Lions placed second at the West Coast Conference Championship held at Crystal Springs Park in Belmont, California.  The second place finish was the team's highest since 1981 and was truly a team effort.  The men finished the 8K course with an average time of 25:52, which bests the old team record by an impressive 52 seconds.  In addition to this great team accomplishment, three Lions were under the existing LMU course record of 25:48.  Junior Trevor Wiseman led the way finishing in fifth place with a time of 25:30 and redshirt junior Lino Almeida finished just six seconds later in eighth place.  Both Wiseman and Almeida earned All-Conference honors for their efforts.  Freshman Scott Donahue also had a great race finishing in 26:24, which broke the freshman record previously held by Almeida.   
NCAA West Regional
The Lions traveled to Eugene, Oregon where they competed at the NCAA West Region Championship.  The men finished the 10K race with a team time average time of 32:48, which was 1:08 faster than their previous record of 33:56.  The season ended with a 16th place finish at the regional meet, the best finish in school history.     
Mickelson Finishes Stellar Career
The 2007 women's cross country season closed the books on an era, but also fittingly opened a new chapter with the promise of a bright and exciting future.  Senior Laura Mickelson finished her distinguished LMU career by earning a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Ind.  She ran her way to a course program record of 21:15, eclipsing her previous mark by 23 seconds and placing 61st in a field of 256 runners.  Two weeks earlier, she qualified for the National Championship at the West Region Championship, where she placed 15th overall in the race.  At the WCC Championship, Mickelson again earned All-Conference honors for the third time in her illustrious career by finishing in second place, falling just short of capturing back-to-back individual Conference Championship titles.  The El Segundo, Cailf. native earned two National Championship appearances, two All-Region Honors, won a WCC individual title and numerous individual invitational titles while setting multiple course and meet records.  Tara Erdmann, who undoubtedly had the best season of any freshman in LMU history, announced her presence and willingness to claim the torch from Mickelson. At the 2007 West Coast Conference Championship, Erdmann earned the prestigious Freshman of the Year honor as the highest freshman finisher by placing fifth in the race.  She was also All-Conference for her efforts. At the NCAA West Region Championship, Erdmann continued her phenomenal season as the eighth-best freshman finisher in the meet and 40th overall.
Pre-WCC Championship
All season, the Lions were led by the consistent one-two punch of Mickelson and Erdmann.  Not to be outdone, the performances of junior Abby Fall, senior Brittany Rezowalli and sophomore Annie Holden helped close out what was arguably one of the most successful seasons in history. The Lions started the season with a victory at the Pepperdine Dual, followed by a second-place finish at the Irvine Invitational and a sixth place finish at the Aztec Invitational. As a team, things started to click at the Stanford Invitational  In the very deep race, the women finished in seventh place and were led by three runners in the top 25: Mickelson (ninth), Erdmann (13th), and Fall (25th). Additionally, the Lions ran a team time of 22:01, which was at the time the fastest team time for 6K in school history.  
WCC Championship
At the WCC Championship, the women again bettered their record with a team average of 22:00 on a much tougher 6K course. The team effort was good enough for a third-place finish.  This marks the third consecutive year the women have finished in the top-three in the tough West Coast Conference.
NCAA West Regional
Two weeks later the team traveled to Eugene, Oregon, where for the third consecutive year the women finished in the top-15 at the talent-filled NCAA West Region Championship.  The tough region included four of the top 10 teams in the nation: Washington, Arizona State, Oregon, and the eventual national champion Stanford.  The team again bettered their school record by running the 6K course in an average time of 21:59, which is now the fastest team average on any course in LMU history.

The Lions continued their success on the track in the Spring.  Like the cross country season, the track season started with another victory at Pepperdine where the men's squad won the second annual West Coast Track Challenge competing against conference foes San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Both junior Adam Stebbins (200m, 400m, 4x100m, 4x400m) and freshman Matt Duncan (110mH, 400mH, 4x100m, 4x400m) placed first in all four events in which they competed.  Trevor Wiseman built on his successful fall by running 8:30.48 in the 3000m at the West Coast Track Challenge and 14:47.71 in the 5000m at UCLA's Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational.  Both marks were school records.  Freshman Connor Pastoor also set a school record in the 3000m steeplechase by running 9:54.50 at the Ben Brown Invitational.  Freshman hurdler Matt Duncan set school records in both the 110m high hurdles (18.19) and the 400m hurdles (57.77).  

For the second consecutive year, Keyon Mitchell shined in the jumps.  The sophomore set school records in the long jump (6.94m, 22'9.25") and triple jump (14.39m, 47'2.5").  In addition to setting school records, Mitchell jumped at the Stanford Invitational, where he finished second in his section of the long jump and fifth in the triple jump.  Mitchell also took second place in the Collegiate Section of the long jump at the prestigious Mt. SAC Invitational.

When spring arrived, the women's track squad picked up right where they left off last year, improving on what was their best season ever. Early on, in the highly anticipated West Coast Track Challenge, the Lions defended their championship by dominating conference foes Pepperdine, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. Freshman Tara Erdmann had a breakout day, winning both the 800m and the 1500m.  Her 800m time of 2:17.67 set a new stadium record.  Erdmann was also part of the school record-setting distance medley relay.  Additionally, the 4x100m relay team set a new school record and placed second.
Freshmen Keyanna Adger and Chelsea Wirshem led the sprint and jump corps to the best season in school history. Adger continued to improve her times throughout the season and ultimately set school records in the 100m (12.69) and the 200m (26.81) at the Arizona State Invitational. In the triple jump, Wirschem set a school record with a leap of 36'0.25" (10.98m) at the UCLA Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational.
Junior Abby Fall and senior Brittany Rezowalli each had remarkable seasons, where they significantly lowered their personal bests for the 5000m distance.  Fall's best time of the season happened at the Occidental Distance Carnival where she ran 17:10.90, lowering her top time by 55 seconds.  She is now the fourth-fastest individual to run the distance at LMU.  Rezowalli also had the best season in her college career running 17:32.34 and taking over the number-five spot on the all time list.  Erdmann set two more school records in her first season under the LMU jersey. At the Arizona State Invitational, she ran the 1500m in 4:29.17 in front of her hometown crowd and set a school record in the mile (5:03.0) at Cal State University Northridge.  Erdmann's best race of the track season was at the Stanford Invitational, where she ran 16:47.45 for 5K. With that time, she became the second-fastest individual at the 5K distance in LMU history and qualified to run at the NCAA West Region Championship. With this honor the Lions have now had representation at the NCAA West Region Championship in each of the first three seasons in which track and field has been sponsored as an NCAA sanctioned sport at LMU.

13 LMU fall sport student-athletes were awarded Academic All-West Coast Conference status, the conference office announced on January 31.  The cross country teams posted two athletes on the women's side and one on the men's. All three runners were recognized for the second consecutive year, with senior Laura Mickelson and junior Abby Fall from the women's squad and Jonathan MacNeil from the men's team honored. Mickelson, who earned her second All-Academic selection in as many years, finished 61st at the NCAA National Championship, 15th at the West Regional to claim an All-Region selection and second at the WCC Championship this season while maintaining a 3.95 GPA as a Natural Science major.  Fall garnered her second straight All-Academic selection after posting a 3.81 GPA as a Communication major. The junior finished 15th at the WCC Championship and 100th at the NCAA West Regional.  MacNeil, a senior Mechanical Engineering major, earned his second consecutive All-Academic bid after turning-in a 3.66 GPA. The native of Arcadia, Calif. finished 16th overall at the WCC Championship to help lead LMU to a second-place finish.

Fifty-eight NCAA student-athletes, including LMU's Laura Mickelson, were awarded educational grants through the NCAA postgraduate scholarship program in late February. The winners (29 men and 29 women) represent fall-sports participants who will receive one-time, nonrenewable grants of $7,500. Mickelson was the only athlete from the WCC to receive a grant this year.  The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition. The Association awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually, 87 for men and 87 for women.  The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage postgraduate education by rewarding the Association's most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports.

Laura Mickelson was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team on February 25. A total of 91 female student-athletes representing 62 Division I institutions were named to the All-Academic team, including Mickelson and Portland's Dana Morgan from the WCC.  The award honors those student-athletes who have succeeded both academically and athletically. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must carry a minimum 3.25 cumulative grade point average and have completed a minimum 24 semester hours through the 2007 fall term. Additionally, the student-athlete must finish in the top-15 runners or top-10 percent of finishers at their respective NCAA regional meet, or receive All-American honors.

The men's and women's track teams, along with the men's cross country team, were honored by the NCAA with public recognition awards for their latest multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores, it was announced on April 24.  Teams recognized by the NCAA posted multi-year APR scores in the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sports. The public recognition awards are part of the broad Division I academic reform effort.  The APR provides a real-time look at a team's academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR includes eligibility, retention, and graduation in the calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.

Freshman Tara Erdmann qualified for the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships with an impressive run of 4:39.31 in the 1500 meters on March 1, 2008 at the West Coast Challenge. The qualification marks the first time an LMU athlete has qualified to participate in the Championships.  For Erdmann, the qualifying race was the first of her career at the 1500 meter distance. To qualify, a runner must complete the distance in 4:40.14.  In addition to having equaled or bettered the qualifying time during the qualifying periods (June 20, 2007-June 15, 2008), participants must also meet a few other criteria. Only citizens of the United States who are eligible to represent the U.S. in all levels of international competition are eligible to compete in championship events. Athletes must also be at least 14 years old on the day of competition but not turn 20 years old during 2008. As a result of the latter criteria, typically college freshmen are the only collegiate runners who can qualify for the Junior Championships.

Loyola Marymount cross country's Laura Mickelson was named Female Runner of the Month for September by the West Coast Conference, the league announced on October 4.  Mickelson, a senior, won two individual titles during the month: the UC Irvine/Asics Invitational and the Pepperdine dual title.  At Pepperdine, Mickelson won the individual title in 17:56 (3-mile) to lead the Lions to the win over the rival Waves.  At the UCI/Asics Invitational, she won the 5k title in 17:27.70 to lead LMU to a second-place finish among 12 teams.  Also in September, Mickelson finished second at the SDSU Aztec Invitational (17:45) to lead LMU to sixth place of 14 teams.  She wrapped-up the month at the Stanford Invitational, finishing eighth in the 6k in 21:04 to help LMU finish seventh of 28 teams.  Mickelson was selected for the honor over runners from all WCC schools, including regionally-ranked Portland and previously regionally-ranked San Francisco.  It was the third career WCC Runner of the Month selection for Mickelson, who earned the honor for September and October 2006.




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