Running After the Title
The LMU Cross Country team has the Conference Championships this Saturday, October 30, 2010
Oct. 28, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
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As Halloween weekend draws near with excitement for costumes, candy and trick-or-treating the West Coast Conference Cross Country teams are also feeling the excitement and anticipation in the crisp fall air as they gear up for the West Coast Conference Championships on Saturday October 30, 2010. This Saturday morning the LMU Lions will race for their first WCC team title at the historic Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in Belmont, CA starting at 9:00 am with the women's 6k and 9:45 for the men's 8k.
Over the past few years, the West Coast Conference has been increasingly successful on both the regional and national level. While Portland has stood as the perennial powerhouse and national caliber program representing the WCC, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount have been spotted as programs on the rise. The Lions have proved themselves as an integral part of this upward trend as the men, have placed second at the WCC Championships for the past three years in a row, while the women have placed second for the past two years. Additionally LMU's Tara Erdmann has brought national attention to the Lions with her individual success, earning All-American accolades in the 10k for track this past spring. With this steady climb to success across the conference, this Saturday will be one of the most competitive races for the WCC Title in conference history.
The LMU women have already seen a lot of early success this season. At their official season opener at UC Riverside Invitational, the Lions took third place behind regional competitors Southern Utah and Arkansas. Tara Erdmann and Sheree Shea led the Lions to their top-three team finish placing 1st and 4th overall. Their success as a top duo continued into the Stanford Invitational where they both had top ten finishes, Erdmann placing 4th and Shea placing 8th. Finally at Pre-nationals Erdmann pulled out at top-five finish amidst some of the top competition in the nation placing 4th, while Shea finished 35th overall. With Erdmann and Shea leading the Lions pack, they have a strong one-two punch across the line.
The Lady Lions have a mixture of experience and youth with three freshmen in their top seven. In addition to this young talent, the Lions will be looking to steady number three runner, Brieanna Delaney to have a strong race this weekend at conference. Delaney who is a true Cross Country runner has performed very well on the difficult Crystal Spring's course in the past and will be a crucial place number for the Lions. LMU will also be looking to senior Cynthia Chaidez for her experience at high pressure races to help lead the pack of freshman which includes wild cards Alyssa Bellia, Michelle Hickerson and Brittnie Munoz across the line. Overall the women's race will be a close competition, with returning champions San Francisco nationally ranked for the first time in program history and Portland and Santa Clara all bringing strong squads to the line ready to go.
With a young and motivated team, the LMU men have the potential and talent to pull an upset. For the last two races at Stanford and NCAA-Pre Nationals in Indiana, Weston Strum has led the Lions as a freshman. Strum started off with a bang, breaking the freshman 8k record earlier this season in 25:04 at the UC Riverside Invitational. The Lions have had three freshman in their top seven all season, and three in their top five at the Stanford Invite. One of the deciding factors for the Lions will be how their top three freshman Weston Strum, Drew Dalton and Kevin Joeger perform on a difficult collegiate distance course. Each have incredibly impressive high school careers and will be the difference in how deep the Lion's pack will be.
The Lions also return 1st Team All-WCC sophomore Sterling Lockert who placed 8th last year at conference. Lockert along with Tyre Johnson, Thomas Finnigan, and Connor Pastoor will be looking to repeat their strong pack performance from last year where they put their top five runners in the top 15 overall. Sophomore Tyre Johnson who placed 13th overall last year, returns this season in even better form and has already set a personal best in the 8k. Junior Thomas Finnigan who also placed in the top fifteen last year had a break out race at the UC Riverside invitational breaking 25minutes for the 8k. With these strong returners ready to go and experienced on the tough course, the Lions will be tough to knock out of the top three. Additionally the Lions will have 2008 Fist Team All-WCC Phillip Benavides who coming off a red shirt year, has been gradually working his way back into a competitive grove. With this combination of youth, talent, experience and spirit, the Lions will be the ones to chase this Saturday.