On The Run
Lions on a mission at Saturday's West Coast Conference Championship.
Oct. 28, 2004
Los Angeles, Calif. - Picked to finish fourth in the 2004 West Coast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, the Loyola Marymount cross country squads have other plans for this weekend's WCC Championships at the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif.
"This race is our holy grail," Head Coach Scott Guerrero said. "Our goal is a third place finish for both the men and women. For the women, that would equal their best finish ever and for the men, their best since 1991."
Returning from a season that saw the Lions experience their most successful campaign in program history as measured by the team time performances on the WCC championship course in 2003, Guerrero is not shy about voicing his expectations for this year's cross country squads on championship Saturday. "I will not be satisfied unless we have the best season ever in the history of cross country at LMU." Both the men and women's squads set new school team time records on the Crystal Springs championship course in 2003.
At the WCC Championships in 2003, the LMU men finished fourth overall in the team competition, representing the highest team finish since 1991 and the highest finish since the men began running the 8000m course in 1993. The men also set a new program record team time of 2:17:38, an average of 27:32 for the scoring five. The all-time high finish for the men at the WCC Championship was the second place finish in 1981.
"For the men, our course record is 27:01 at Crystal Springs and has stood since 1996," Guerrero said. "We aim to take that down on Saturday."
The 2003 women's squad finished fifth overall in the WCC, giving the program its highest team finish since 1990. The women also set a new program record team time of 97:22, an average of 19:28 for the scoring five. The women have been running the same 5000m championship course since 1985, with last year representing the first time in 19 years of championship history that the LMU women have run a team time under 100 minutes.
"Our team time of 97:22 set last year on this course was our fastest team time in history," Guerrero said. "On Saturday, we want to be a lot closer to 95:00."
The Lions enter the championship weekend this season with veteran conference runners. Five of the Lions' top seven men- Kenny Arehart, Adam Bacon, Drew Haberkorn, Bernie Ochoa, and Andrew Thompson - competed in last year's championship. Bacon has been the top Lion finisher in each of the four invitationals the men have competed in this year and led the men at the 2003 WCC Championships with a 20th place finish.
"On the men's side, we haven't had an top-10 finisher since 1984," Guerrero said. "We expect Adam Bacon to end that drought."
Freshman Lino Almeida and sophomore Reynaldo Barrera will join the returning five this weekend. Each of the seven men competing this weekend had his season-best time at the competitive Stanford Invitational on September 25.
Three Lions will return to lead the women's squad in Kristen Gonzalez, Trinity Amalfitano, and Maria Degitz. Gonzalez led the women at the 2003 championship as the 20th WCC runner to cross the line. The women have been led by four different runners in their five races this season, with Degitz leading the Lions twice and Gonzalez, Brittany Rezowalli, and Kelly Yahr each taking the lead once.
Amalfitano (19:40.5), Bishop (19:50.6), Gonzalez (19:52.2), and Rezowalli (19:27.6) each had her season-best time at the Cal Poly Invitational, the Lions' most recent race. Degitz (19:54.15) and Laura Mickelson (19:57.90) opened the 2004 campaign with their season-best runs coming at the Bronco Invitational in September.
"Our women's squad is deep and we feel that is our strength," Guerrero said. "I think we'll have our best race ever and we'll do it with three freshmen in our top five."
Saturday's championship run begins 9:00 a.m. on the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif. The Lions have experience on this course this year, as the season-opening Bronco Invitational was at the same site on September 4.
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