Lions Have Strong Showing at WCC Championships
Four Lion men finish in the top 30, while four women post season-best times.
Nov. 1, 2003
Belmont, Calif. -- The Loyola Marymount men and women's cross country teams had a strong showing at Saturday's West Coast Conference Championships on the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif., to close out the season. Four LMU men crossed the line in the top 30, while four women posted season-best times on the same course the Lions opened their season on at the Bronco Invitational in August.
The first three LMU men to cross the line finished the 8k within three seconds of each other, as sophomore Adam Bacon (27:14) led the Lions for the fourth time this season. Bacon finished in 20th place. Closely behind Bacon were junior Andrew Thompson (22nd) and sophomore Kenny Arehart (23rd), both clocking 27:17. Thompson's performance represented a career best on the course, while Arehart improved his 2002 time by 53 seconds.
Junior Bernie Ochoa (27:31) and sophomore David Steinhafel (28:19) rounded out the scoring five for the Lions, who finished fourth of the eight conference teams. Also competing for the varsity squad were sophomore Greg Corry (28:34) and freshman Drew Haberkorn (28:40).
"Our team goals were primarily to get 5 guys across the finish line as quickly as possible and as a team to finish in the top half of the conference, which we hadn't done in over a decade," said head coach Scott Guerrero.
The fourth place finish for the men's team represents the highest team finish since 1991. The team time of 2:17:38 (a 27:32 average for the scoring five) is the fastest team time ever recorded by any LMU men's team on the WCC 8000 meter championship course.
"I absolutely could not be any more proud of our guys," said Guerrero. "They have worked very hard at this beginning in the spring of last year. It has not always been easy, and toward the end here, we were really battling some sickness and injury problems. I know that on an individual level some were happier than others with their performances. But what really stands out in my mind is that everyone gave one hundred percent effort to helping achieve the team goals, and I think that speaks volumes about the character of our men."
The women were led by freshman Kristen Gonzalez for the fifth time this season. Gonzalez's 5k time of 19:15 was good for 20th place at her first collegiate conference championship. Juniors Trinity Amalfitano (19:22) and Alexis Gernhardt (19:33) each set career bests. Sophomore Lara Del Rio was the fourth Lion finisher in 19:35, an improvement of 52 seconds versus last year's championship time. Junior Maria Degitz also turned in a career best of 19:37 to round out the scoring five. Freshman Melani Hom posted a career best of 20:07 and sophomore Michelle Toapanta finished in 21:37. Both Hom and Toapanta were also competing in their first ever collegiate conference championship, where the women took fifth place.
The fifth place finish is the highest program finish for the women since 1990. The women's team time of 1:37:22 is a program record. "The LMU women have been running the same championship course since 1985, and this is the fastest team time ever turned in by a squad over that 19 year period," noted Guerrero.
The women's program suffered a blow when freshman Katie Strachan became ill and was forced to sit out the remainder of the season. "Katie was our number one runner at the beginning of the season. When we found out that she was out for the rest of the season, needless to say, we were all stunned. These girls could have just rolled over, given up and packed it in. Instead, they rose to the occasion and lifted this team to our highest conference finish in over a decade and set multiple team, career and season records along the way. What else could I ask for as a coach?"
Portland claimed both the men and women's WCC titles.
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