RELIVE THE CUP: Inaugural Season of LMU Track Sends Lions to NCAAs

Aug. 10, 2006

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PART 14 - WCC COMMISSIONER'S CUP SERIES: Lion fans can relive the 2005-06 West Coast Conference Commissioner's Cup all summer on as we look back on cup-clinching moments each week. In this 14th installment, we look at the quick rise of a program new to LMU Athletics: men's and women's track.

In just the first season of track at LMU, the Lions were represented at the 2006 NCAA Championships. Sophomore Laura Mickelson ran in the preliminary of the 5000m Wednesday, June 7. While Mickelson's time of 16:43.61 did not qualify her for the event finals, it did place her among the nation's top-25. Based on Wednesday's preliminary, Mickelson was 22nd overall. In the second heat, she finished 10th, ahead of runners from Notre Dame, Washington State, UC Santa Barbara, Arkansas, and Oral Roberts. The NCAA Championship appearance capped a storied season for the LMU cross country and track programs.

When Laura Mickelson and Sara Mickelson took to the track at the NCAA Western Regionals in Provo, Utah, they were already making LMU history in several ways. It marked the first time the Lions had qualified runners for the NCAA track regionals. And this all came in just the first officially sanctioned track season at LMU. But by the time the dust had cleared from their 5000m event, there was even more to add to the LMU record books. Laura Mickelson's time of 17:16.59 was good for a fourth place finish and qualified her for the NCAA Championship. She is one of 20 women in the nation to advance in the 5000m event, with the top five finishers from the western regional earning the automatic berth. Laura Mickelson was the top finisher in the 5000m from outside the Pac-10 conference. Sara Mickelson finished 13th in a time of 17:51.09. The sisters had entered the regional as the event's fifth and 13th seeds.

It has been a storied season for LMU cross country and track and the accolades continue to roll in, as the Lions have two representatives on the Cosida Academic All-Region team. Laura Mickelson and Sara Mickelson were both second-team selections for their academic and athletic performances. Both sisters registered over 3.9 cumulative grade points averages as natural science majors. Laura finished her sophomore year with a 3.94 mark, while Sara posted a 3.92. Laura was named LMU's Female Student-Athlete of the Year, and both were WCC All-Academic selections. In addition to their academic curriculum at LMU, Laura and Sara are both members of the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society and Sursum Corda campus service organization. The El Segundo, Calif. natives were first-team All-WCC selections in cross country, after finishing in the top-10 at the 2005 WCC Cross Country Championships. They led the Lions to the school's first cross country regional ranking. Clocking LMU's fastest 5000m time (18:01) during the 2005 cross country season, Sara became the first Lion to earn the WCC's Female Runner of the Month distinction in October. When LMU announced that it would begin to sponsor track as an official sport, both sisters rose to the occasion, qualifying for the NCAA Western Regionals in the 5000m. Laura also qualified for the NCAA Championships and will compete beginning June 7 in Sacramento, Calif. Laura will finish 2006 as the LMU record-holder in the 1500m, 3000m, and the 5000m.

Teammates and sisters Laura Mickelson and Sara Mickelson qualified for the NCAA West Regionals in the women's 5000m after eclipsing the regional qualifying standard of 16:52 at the Stanford Cardinal Invitational in May. Laura Mickeslon finished second in a regional qualifying time of 16:30.04, which was a huge 27-second personal-record, shattering the school-record. After falling off the lead pack, Sara Mickelson finished with a strong kick to take seventh in the heat, just making the qualifying time in an equally huge 27-second personal-record time of 16:49.3. Both of their times qualify them for the NCAA Western Regional Championships in Provo, Utah, May 26 and 27. At the time of the race, both times placed them in the top-10 (Laura) and top-20 (Sara) in the NCAA Western Region as well as top-40 (Laura) and top-90 (Sara) nationally in the women's 5000m.

LMU will now compete in men's and women's track at the varsity intercollegiate level, Director of Athletics Dr. William Husak announced in February. The addition of LMU's 19th and 20th sports is effective immediately and the two teams will begin competition as officially-sanctioned sports this weekend. LMU has participated in an unofficial spring track season for three years now, but the authorized sanctioning of the sport will allow LMU and eighth-year Cross Country/Track Head Coach Scott Guerrero to attract student-athletes who are interested in competing in both sports. The addition of track means that LMU runners can qualify for NCAA regional and national competition during both the fall and spring seasons. Guerrero said the program will maintain a distance and middle distance focus. Lion fans will find the new track rosters will be largely comprised of LMU cross country runners, with a few who specialize in track events. The track season will feature a minimum of six competition dates held between February and May.





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