SEASON PREVIEW: Deeper and Stronger

Lions head into season deeper and stronger

Sept. 2, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - After a season that started with heartache and saw injuries to key members of his team, head coach Scott Guerrero is all smiles heading into this season due to one word: depth. The Lions return an experienced and capable squad, lead by an All-American, and filled with accomplished runners.

Last year saw the Lions' women's team finish 3rd in the conference. This year's team is lead by redshirt senior Tara Erdmann, the Lions' first cross-country All-American. Coming off of a season in which she won her second All-American honor, finished in the top 25 at the NCAA National Championships (3rd from the West region), and won the West Coast Conference individual championship, Erdmann is seeking even more success for herself and her team.

The Lions' women's team returns 18 runners, a mix of 6 seniors, 4 juniors, and 8 sophomores, who all gained valuable experience last year. The success of last year's team was in spite of injuries to returners senior Cassandra Salazar, sophomore Michelle Hickerson and sophomore Veronica Wallington, who are all returning this season. The team also returns junior Sheree Shea who, in addition to improving on her record-breaking accomplishments, is looking to add qualification to the NCAA National Cross Country Championships to her resume. The depth of this year's squad includes 4 other experienced seniors in Brieanna Delaney, Marissa Diehl, Megan Fairley, and Stephanie Felix, juniors Caroline Draper, Jillian Jaccard, and Jessica Mumaugh, and sophomores Alyssa Bellia, Laura Delgado, Coralie Eilers, Brittnie Munoz, Jackie Pierson, and Kelly Shogren. The team adds one freshman in Aeoleone Bristow, from Rio Rico, Ariz. an exciting addition to this year's talented returners.

Coming off a season where they placed 4th at the WCC Championships, last year's squad was filled with underclassmen that gained valuable experience. This year's team is lead by redshirt senior Connor Pastoor who commands a team that has matured over the past year and looks to improve on last year's 4th place conference finish. Also returning are senior Oran Arms and juniors Phillip Benavides, Michael Carlone, Greg Innes, Tyre Johnson, and Sterling Lockert who all have worked hard through the year to strengthen this year's team. Impressive sophomore Weston Strum joins a group of returning sophomores including Drew Dalton, Mike Evans, Kevin Joerger, Henry Jordan, RJ Larrieu, and Dan Smith who bring experience to the squad. The team brings in 5 freshmen in Andres Lopez, Jonathan Miller, Douglas Petree, Christian Velasquez and Michael Vorgitch who look to stand out while gaining experience.

The women and men are predicted to finish 4th and 5th in conference, respectively. The conference has been strengthened with the addition of BYU who join national powerhouse Portland and a very good USF team to rank ahead of LMU in the pre-season polls. The Lions have prepared well for the upcoming season and strive to become a top 10 team in the West. Head coach Guerrero believes that with the depth and amount of skill his team possesses, he has the most talented team in his 14 years of coaching at LMU. Depth, talent and a bit of good luck can take these Lions to the top.

The Lions begin their season this Saturday, Sept. 3 at 8:30 a.m. at the Fullerton Season Opener in Brea, Calif. Both teams will take a partial squad to the race at the reconfigured Carbon Canyon Park in Brea, Calif. The men will compete in a 8K race beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the women competing in a 6K race beginning at 9:05 a.m.

Check out the video above for additional footage from the teams' training camp in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.





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