LMU Cross Country 2009 Season Outlook: 'The Tipping Point'

Sept. 3, 2009

Los Angeles, CA - Over the past few seasons LMU Cross Country has been making the push from good to great. With their talented youth, a lot of hard work, and a little luck, this year might just be their "tipping point." Last year's conference championship set into motion the LMU lions as a force to be reckoned with; through the pouring rain, wind and cold, both the men's and women's teams made cross country history with the tenacity and spirit of true lions.

At conference this last year, the women captured their lowest team score in school history, placing three runners in the top ten, including sophomore Tara Erdmann as the individual WCC champion. With Erdmann's win and strong performances from a young team, the lady lions came within five points of Portland and the coveted team title. In addition, for the second year in a row a lion, freshman Brieanna Delaney, received the honor of WCC Freshman of the Year.

The lions will return a stronger and more experienced group of sophomores, who last year just got their feet wet as freshmen; including Brieanna Delaney, Stephanie Felix, Megan Fairley, and Marissa Diehl who all competed in the lion's top seven at conference and the NCAA west regionals. From their top five, the lions only graduate senior Abby Fall, and with redshirt Cynthia Chaidez, senior Brooke Lademan, and sophomore Cassandra Salazar with potential to score, the lady lions have developed a deep pack. This season the women are looking to capture that team conference title and if last year is any indication, Portland is definitely hearing footsteps...



In addition, the program has once again brought in a talented group of fresh faces for the women including Jillian Jaccard, Caroline Draper, Jessica Mumaugh and footlocker finalist Sheree Shea. Shea placed fourth with a time of 17:51 for 5k at the state cross country meet and was a CIF champion and a state competitor for the 3200m in track. Draper too received all-state recognition for an 18:14 finish at Woodward Park's 5k course and ran 11:01 in the 3200m in track. Jaccard and Mumaugh each clocked 11:13 and 11:14 respectably for 3200m in track and both had competitive finishes in their cross country seasons, including a top twenty finish by Jaccard at the Washington state meet.

The men's dramatic conference performance was the closest margin in a thirty-four year history to Portland and the lowest team total in LMU school history. Like the women, they too placed three runners in the top ten including senior Trevor Wiseman, junior Brian McDonald, and freshman Phillip Benavides. Close behind was sophomore Connor Pastoor 12th, freshman Thomas Finnigan 18th, and junior Scott Donahue to help the lions rattle Portland's long-standing reign. With returners like McDonald, Finnigan, Benavides and Pastoor, the men will be looking to once again get closer to that championship title. A combination of new raw talent and tenacity from the veteran runners could be just the right combination.

The men graduate consistent top performer Trevor Wiseman, but welcome new face Daniel LaCava, a standout transfer from the University of Arkansas, and a group of talented freshmen including Tyree Johnson, Sterling Lockert, and Greg Innes. At the University of Arkansas LaCava ran 30:10 for 10,000m and brings experience from a highly competitive college arena. Johnson was a State champion and footlocker finalist his senior year having ran 15:15 for the 5k. Locket has also recorded impressive accolades with an 8th place 15:25 finish at the Woodward Park's 5k state cross country meet, and 9:01 for the 3200m at the state track meet.

As evidence of their hard work and last season's success, both the men and women were picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference coaches' pre-season poll. Head Coach Scott Guerrero says that, "Our main goal from year to year always remains the same-to improve and be better than we were before." This year improving will mean looking beyond the conference meet to NCAA West Regionals. Last year, both the men's and women's youth played a factor in a hugely competitive west region. This year however the lions return with confidence and experience in the bigger competitive races.

After a summer of putting in long miles and last season's historical conference performance, it seems as though the lions are at the "tipping point-the levels at which momentum for change becomes unstoppable" (Malcom Gladwell). Greatness is just one race away...

The lions will start their season this Saturday at the Cal State Fullerton Invitational.



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