Lions Better Than Ever at WCC Championship
Lions make history at WCC Cross Country Championship with a second place finish for the women and third place for the men.
Oct. 29, 2005
Belmont, Calif. - The Lions have had Saturday, October 29, circled on their calendars since last season, and today the preparations paid off. Loyola Marymount cross country made history at the West Coast Conference Championship, taking second place on the women's side and third on the men's.
For the women, the second place team finish was the highest finish in LMU history. Before today's results, the 1985 squad held the best finish in LMU's WCC Championship history when it finished third.
Saturday's finish also marked the lowest LMU team score ever, as the Lions finished with 58 points, besting the previous mark of 71 set in that 1985 season. It was LMU's fastest team time (93:35), fastest team average (18:43), and season-best gap (0:49). The women have run the same 5000m course since the WCC begin sponsoring a championship for women in 1985, thus making today's race the 21st annual appearance by the Lions on the Belmont course. The Lions' overall team time of 93:35 represents the fifth-fastest overall team time for any school in conference championship history.
Sophomores Laura Mickelson (seventh in 18:23), Brittany Rezowalli (eighth in 18:24), and Sara Mickelson (ninth in 18:34) each finished in the top-10 Saturday to lead the Lions to the second place team finish. Each was named first-team All-WCC for her top-10 finish. This year's all-conference selections outnumber the combined total from all of Guerrero's previous seven seasons. Fellow sophomore Claudia Bishop (15th in 19:02) received WCC honorable mention recognition for her top-15 finish.
Graduating senior Lara Del Rio (19th in 19:12) was the Lions' fifth finisher. With junior Heather Rosas (19:15) crossing the line in 20th place, LMU put six finishers in the top-20 for the first time in school history.
The women improved to the second place team finish from last year's sixth place result. The 2005 preseason coaches' poll predicted the Lions would finish fifth in today's race. For his successes, Head Coach Scott Guerrero took home the WCC Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year accolade.
LMU finished third on the men's side, the first time the men have garnered a top-three finish since 1991. Sophomore Lino Almeida finished fourth overall, becoming the all-time highest finishing individual male in school history. Prior to Saturday's race, the highest finish for an LMU male at the WCC Championships was fifth, a mark achieved twice by Tom Carlton in both 1981 and 1983. The last time an LMU male finished in the top-10 was in 1984 when Richard Vicain finished 10th.
Almeida's finishing time of 25:48 sets a new school record for the 8000m WCC Championship course, shattering his own record of 26:58 set just last year during his freshman season. Juniors Reynaldo Barrera (26:50) and Drew Haberkorn (26:55) were both also under the old record. Finishing 14th overall, Barrera was named All-WCC honorable mention. Senior Kenny Arehart (27:01) and freshman Sean Sisk (27:06) rounded out the scoring five. All of LMU's top-five finishing marks rank in LMU's top-10 all-time times on the WCC 8K course.
The team's average of 26:44 was 22 seconds better than the Lions' 2004 average, making it the all-time best LMU team average at the WCC Championship.
The men clocked a faster team time than second place San Francisco, but USF out-scored the Lions by just four points. The 2004 championship saw the Dons clock the faster team time, but LMU took the two-point edge. "They did to us exactly what we did to them last year," Guerrero said. "We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a battle. Our goal for this year has always been to place third or better and we knew that in order to do that we would have to beat either Santa Clara or San Francisco. These close finishes have really started a great rivalry."
The 2005 championship marks the first time that LMU has finished ahead of Santa Clara since Guerrero took over the program in 1998.
The race, held every year at Belmont's Crystal Springs course, is a challenging run with hills throughout. The weather was on the runners' side however, as rain had made the course firm and the overcast skies kept the temperatures low.
For the first time, fans could follow all of the action of the race as it happened on the Lions' All-Access broadcast, as Damian Kearney and Anthony Gutierrez had the call. The audio broadcast has been archived and can be accessed from the LMU Athletics homepage at: http://www.lmulions.com
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