The Time is Now
LMU Cross Country to compete in the WCC Championships this Saturday
Oct. 29, 2009
Los Angeles, Calif. - With one of the most anticipated championships in school and conference history, catch up with the Lions as they prepare for this Saturday:
After a summer of long training runs, a season of speed and interval workouts, weekends of races, it is finally here--the Saturday that could go down in LMU Cross Country history. This Saturday's WCC Cross Country Championships at the historic Crystal Springs Cross Country Course are arguably the most anticipated races in conference history, with the best squads the conference has ever seen vying for the team title. The men's race will go off at 9:00 am followed by the women at 9:45 am in Belmont, CA.
On both the LMU men and women's side, the Lion's have their most talented teams in school history. Throughout the season, both as individuals and as a team, the Lion's have been shattering records and proving that they can compete and win amongst the best. This Saturday they will continue their quest as they look to win their first team conference title in school history.
LMU kicked off their season with a speedy start at the UC Riverside Invitational, however it was at the Stanford Invitational where people began to catch wind of just how good LMU could be this season. At the Stanford Invite, the women's team placed third overall only behind no. 3 Stanford and no.6 Cal earning the Lions their highest regional ranking ever at 7th in the deeply competitive west region. The men placed 7th overall at Stanford breaking into the top ten for the first time in school history. Two weeks later, both squads placed in the top seven at Arkansas Chile Pepper Invitational against both nationally and regionally ranked teams. Following that performance, the LMU men received a well-deserved nod, making it into the regional rankings for the first time all season at number fifteen. To win the conference championship would not only be the first team championship in school history for each team, but also would dethrone Portland's long standing reign of the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championship.
Last year on the women's side, LMU came within five points of defeating Portland for the title, while sophomore Tara Erdmann won the individual title and freshman Brieanna Delaney was honored as WCC Freshman of the Year. This year with Tara Erdmann redshirting, LMU will be looking to newcomer freshman Sheree Shea who has led the Lions all season to turn in a low finish. However when it comes down to it, the power of the pack will be what determines the conference title. Junior Cynthia Chaidez has been progressively getting faster and stronger all season and was the Lion's number two finisher at the Stanford Invitational. Sophomore Cassandra Salazar has not only made recorded significant personal records throughout the season so far, but has also been unwaveringly consistent, a huge factor when it comes to difficult courses like Crystal Springs. Last year sophomore Brieanna Delaney placed in the top ten and has shown that she can rise to the occasion on a challenging course in a competitive field. Senior Brooke Lademan has been closing the gap between the top five all season while sophomore Megan Fairley ran well on this course last year and has potential to turn in another solid performance. To round out the women's top seven freshman Caroline Draper's competitive drive will provide the depth the Lion's need to seal the deal.
On the men's side Senior Brian McDonald posses not only the talent and drive to be in the lead pack, but also has experience and poise on this particular course. Last year McDonald was sixth overall earning him first team conference honors and this season he has only shown improvement to qualify him as one of the best runners in the conference. Junior Connor Pastoor has the racing grit to really compete and turn in a low score for the Lions as he was 12th last year. Already this season, Pastoor has proved his training has paid off while sophomore Thomas Finnigan has put in the miles and returns to the course this year healthy after finishing 18th as a freshman last year. A big factor for the men will be freshman Sterling Lockert, as he has gained confidence in the collegiate field from the beginning of the season to race the number two position for the men and even led the team in Arkansas. Senior veteran Daniel LaCava has experience against nationally ranked runners such as Portland and in high-pressure races and has been consistently pushing into the Lion's top five throughout the season. Rounding out the Lion's top seven will be Junior Scott Donahue and Freshman Tyre Johnson, both who have the talent to make them somewhat wildcards for the Lions.
Historically winning conference takes at least three runners in the top ten. Last year both the men's and women's teams placed three runners in the top ten and recorded two of the closest finishes to Portland in conference history, each taking a close second overall. Another factor to consider in last year's finish were the conditions; even in the extreme weather of sleeting wind and rain that made for a slow course, the Lions still recorded improvements. The men put four all time finishes on the Lion's top fifteen finishes in school history while the women added seven to the top fifteen on the 6k records and another individual title. The men have a longstanding history on the Crystal Springs 8k course as they have been running it since 1993 while the women who ran a 5k until 2005 modified the 6k course in 2007. If the Lions can compete with the same heart and drive that they showed last year and so far all season long, the team title will be well within reach.
Head Coach Scott Guerrero said, "We have our best team in school history by far this year, so it is exciting--we really just want to go out and compete. I truly believe we are good enough to win, and if last year and this season's performances are any indicator, we are ready."
Conference is a true Cross Country race; the course is hilly and difficult while the race is characterized by true girt competition where each place counts. So far this season, the Lion's have not only shattered LMU school records, but they also have made a name for themselves on the regional stage as an up and coming program hungry for success. A conference title is merely the next step from good to great and so far this season the Lion's have been nothing but great.
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