Season Preview: Chasing the WCC Title
This year the Lions are once again chasing the West Coast Conference Title
Sept. 2, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
The Lions are once again out to win the West Coast Conference Championship this season after placing second for three years in a row on the men's side and two years in a row for the women. With an infusion of young talent to add dept for the men and a stellar class of returners for the women, both sides will have a shot to make history.
On the men's side, the Lions return five out of their top seven including LMU Freshman Athlete of the Year and 5k school record holder Sterling Lockert. Lockert who continued to improve throughout the Cross Country season placing the highest ever by an individual male at NCAA West Regionals, went on to break the school record on the track for the 5k. Lockert is joined by senior Connor Pastoor and junior Thomas Finnigan; both upperclassmen have helped the Lions to their top tier finishes at conference over the past three years. Sophomore Tyre Johnson, who came on as a wild card number four runner for the Lions at Conference and NCAA Regionals has potential to be a top five runner again early on this season. The Lions also will return red shirt Phillip Benavides who earned First Team All-Conference Honors as a freshman. To round out a top seven, the Lions have a stellar recruiting class including three of the top high school recruits in California, Drew Dalton, Weston Strum, and Kevin Joerger who have potential to contribute.
Last year the LMU men, for the third straight season, placed second to national powerhouse, the Portland Pilots. However the men have quietly been establishing a reputation of having the potential to threaten that WCC reign. Over the past three years, the LMU men have established themselves as a team on the rise solidly beating out all the other WCC teams with the exception of Portland at conference and regionals. This season the Lions are again after that crown but also to improve their regional standings at the NCAA West Regional Championship this fall.
On the women's side the Lions return a talented team only loosing one senior and returning Track All-American Tara Erdmann. Erdmann while redshirting last Cross Country season won the Stanford Invitational and went on to earn All-American honors and set four school records in track. Erdmann will be joined by WCC Cross Country Freshman of the Year and LMU Freshman Athlete of the Year, Sheree Shea who finished second last year at conference and 24th at NCAA West Regionals. Junior Cassandra Salazar improved to become the Lions number three runner this past year placing 11th at conference to help the Lions to their second place team finish. Junior Brianna Delaney and Senior Cynthia Chaidez round out the Lions top five, Delaney and Chaidez placed 12th and 13th respectively at conference last year add depth and experience to the Lions squad. Finally sophomore Caroline Draper and junior Megan Fairley each have potential to push into the top pack and give the ladies numbers against tough competition. The women also add five new faces each who all have potential to make an impact with a break out freshman year.
The women suffered a staggering blow last year after San Francisco edged them out of the conference title by only seven points. The women have come in second at conference for the last two years by only twelve points combined, making the solid consistency of placing in the top two only bittersweet. This year the ladies are after the title again, but come back with experience and a reinforced sense of desire and comradery to take them to the top.
The Lions will run their season opener this weekend at the Fullerton Invitational this Saturday, September 4th in Brea, CA. Then we will see a full squad compete at the UC Riverside Invitational in two more weeks on September 18th.
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