Aug. 15, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
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The Loyola Marymount men's and women's cross country squads will look to improve upon solid 2007 team and individual performances as they begin their quest to reach the top of the West Coast Conference in 2008. Last year, the men finished in second place for only the second time in LMU history (1981) and senior Laura Mickelson claimed a second-place finish on the women's side to lead LMU to a third-place overall finish at the WCC Championship. With the runner-up finish, the LMU women have now placed in the top-three in each of the last three seasons.
Both squads are coached once again by Scott Guerrero, now in his 11th season at the helm of the cross country programs. Guerrero, who earned co-WCC Coach of the Year honors on the men's side last season, also spearheaded the resurrection of the LMU track program, which will enter its fourth season as a sanctioned sport in the spring of 2009.
The women, who will be without graduated seniors Laura Mickelson and Brittany Rezowalli this season, return a strong core of runners in 2008, led by reigning WCC Freshman of the Year and first team All-WCC selection Tara Erdmann. Erdmann placed fifth overall in a 6k time of 21:26 to finish second for the Lions at the WCC Championship, and first among her freshmen counterparts. The Freshman of the Year selection was the first of its kind under Guerrero's tutelage, and the first in LMU cross country history. Erdmann will be joined by senior Abby Fall, who took 15th place overall, and junior Annie Holden, who rounded out the scoring five for the Lions to give LMU the third-place finish last season. Also coming online this season will be redshirt junior Brooke Lademan who transferred to LMU last year from the University of Washington. Lademan sat out the fall 2007 season in order to preserve two full years of remaining eligibility. Lademan was a top-5 finisher for the Huskies and was an All-West Region honoree in 2005.
For the women, the 2007 third-place team finish marked the fourth time in program history that the Lions placed in the top-three in the tough WCC. They went on to finish 15th at the West Regional, marking the third consecutive year in which the women have finished 15th or better. The Lions were once again represented at the NCAA Championships last season, as Mickelson finished 61st in the race. Her national run marked the second consecutive year in which she represented LMU in Terre Haute, Ind. She continues to be the only Lion in LMU history to run at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, but with a talented group competing for the Lions in 2008, there is high hope for more representation this season and in the future.
The LMU returning women will be joined by a talented group of newcomers, including Brieanna Delaney, Marissa Diehl, Megan Fairley, Stephanie Felix, Madeline Hess-Maple, Kylie Hunsaker, Kelly McEnerney, Elizabeth Murphy, Cassandra Salazar and junior college transfer Cynthia Chaidez.
“I think historically our women tend to be underrated going into the season,” Guerrero said. “It wouldn’t surprise me again this year if folks underestimate us because of the fact that we are young and we lost our top runner from last season to graduation. We may be young, but we have put together a very deep and talented squad, probably the best I’ve ever seen in my time here. We may just shock some folks this year and that will be kind of fun.”
LMU finished second on the men's side in 2007, marking its fifth-straight top-five team finish. This season, the men's team will welcome back seniors Trevor Wiseman, Lino Almeida and Sean Sisk, three of the five scoring runners from last year’s WCC Championship. Wiseman, an All-WCC selection, set an LMU WCC Championship record with an 8k time of 25:30 to capture fifth place overall and lead the Lions to the second-place finish. Almeida, who was also named All-WCC, finished second for the Lions in 25:36, good for eighth overall in the race. Junior Brian McDonald (11th place in 25:42) and sophomore Scott Donahue (21st overall) both return after running for LMU at the 2007 Championship. Donahue ran a 26:24 last year to break the freshman record set by Almeida in 2004.
Loyola Marymount ran a team time of 129:16, equating to a five-man average of 25:52, over the course last year. In the 15 years that the men have been running the 8k course at Crystal Springs, the only other school to average under 26 minutes over the distance has been the University of Portland. Wiseman, Almeida and McDonald each ran under the LMU old course record (25:48) set by Almeida in 2005 as a sophomore. Wiseman and Almeida's fifth and eighth place finishes mark the first time in Guerrero's ten-year tenure that two runners on the male squad finished in the top-10 at the WCC Championship to earn All-WCC honors. McDonald's 11th-place finish earned him All-WCC honorable mention recognition.
The men went on to finish a program-best 16th at the West Regional, collecting a team score of 507 to finish just nine points behind the 15th place team, Sacramento State. Their 10k team time of 164:05 shattered their previous best of 169:14, which was set at last year's Regional. LMU was led by Almeida's 93rd-place finish in 32:31.90, which proved to be the fastest time in school history for the 10k distance.
Newcomers to the men's squad include Oran Arms, Phillip Benavides, Daman Coffman, Thomas Finnigan, Lucas Rothenberger and Erich Yanoschik.
“This could really be the year for our men’s team,” Guerrero stated. “We return the core of our scoring five from last season, we have great leadership returning on the men’s side, we have some talented kids who have been waiting in the wings who are now a year older and stronger, and we have a great group of incoming freshmen who have the ability to contribute right away. Mix all that together and the results could be pretty impressive.”
Running a 2008 schedule that is loaded with several local Southern California races in order to prepare them for another good showing at the WCC Championships, the Lions will open the season Saturday, August 30 with the Pepperdine Dual.
Other notable stops include the San Diego State Aztec Invitational, the Stanford Invitational, and the Chile Pepper Invitational in Fayettevile, AR.
The Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif., will once again be the site of the WCC Championships, as the Lions look to improve on their outstanding performances from a year ago. The 2008 conference championship is set for November 1.
“I would say that in all the time I’ve been here, this is shaping up to be the most unpredictable year ever. Our philosophy is now and always has been to maximize our potential and to be the best that we can be,” Guerrero said. “No question that this year we are loaded with potential. It should be a fun ride.”