Looking to the Regional Stage
Cross Country Lions look to finish out the season at the NCAA West Regional championship
Nov. 11, 2009
Los Angeles, Calif. - The LMU men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Eugene, Oregon to compete in the NCAA West Regional this Saturday. This year's NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships will be hosted by the University of Oregon, at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ore. where the premier teams in the west region will all be competing to qualify for the NCAA D.1 Championship.
The top two teams from each race will automatically qualify for nationals, however with arguably the strongest region in the country, the competition will extend to more than just the top two teams to also earn a trip to NCAA's in Indiana. The men's 10,000m race will go off at 9:45 a.m. while the women's 6000m race will start at 10:45 a.m. The race will be held at the Springfield Country Club, one of Oregon's premier golf courses. Athletes will race entirely on grass and mostly on fairways as the course consists of three relatively flat loops throughout the grassy course. In a big fast race, with the top teams and individuals in the west, we should see some fast results.
After their strong showing at University of Arkansas Chile Pepper Invitational the LMU men received their first regional ranking all season at no. 15 overall. In the week after their second place finish at the West Coast Conference to the 7th nationally ranked University Portland, the men moved up to no. 13. This weekend in Eugene with the most talented team we have seen in program history, the Lions will have the chance to defend this new recognition on the Regional stage. Last year the men placed 17th overall at Regionals. This year, they know that they can not only improve but also really establish themselves as an up and coming competitive program in the West region.
At the WCC championships last weekend the Lion's were lead by senior Brian McDonald as he set a school record for the 8k course in 25:14 finishing 6th overall. Freshman Sterling Lockert had another stellar race for his first collegiate career finishing 9th overall. However, the real factor for the men in a big race like Regionals will be their depth and strength of the pack. At Conference following McDonald and Lockert, senior Daniel LaCava, freshman Tyre Johnson, and sophomore Thomas Finnigan came in 12th, 13th and 14th respectively to put the Lion's top five in the top fifteen overall. If the WCC Championship race is any indicator, the LMU pack has what it takes to put a close pack of runners in the low numbers. In a big race like Regional's every place counts. On Saturday the LMU men will once again face conference opponent University of Portland in addition to top ranked teams such as Stanford, University of Washington, UCSB, University of Oregon, UCLA, Long Beach State, and UC Riverside.
On the women's side, the lady lions received their highest Regional ranking in school history at no.7 earlier this season after placing third overall at the Stanford Invitational. However, after falling to University of San Francisco at WCC Championships, the women dropped to no. 11. This has left the lady Lion's determined to regain their ranking and have another chance to defeat conference opponents Portland and San Francisco. In addition, the regional course in Eugene is similar to Stanford--flat, grassy and fast--being that the women had a breakout race at Stanford earlier this season, the similarities should give them some confidence.
Last year, the women only placed 16th overall at Regionals. Their highest finish in school history was 14th in 2006 and this year with a more experienced and talented squad they have potential to place in the top ten. All season freshman Sheree Shea has been leading the Lions and was honored with WCC Freshman of the year for her second place finish at conference for which she also set the WCC freshman record on the course. Sophomore Studettes Cassandra Salazar and Brieanna Delaney have been consistent all season for the Lions while upperclassmen Cynthia Chaidez and Brooke Lademan have stepped up to round out a solid top five. Similar to the men, the strength of the pack will determine the success of the team. The women are ready to compete again after a tough race at WCC Championships will face other top teams such as Stanford, Washington, Oregon, University of California, USF and UCDavis.
Coach Scott Guerrero commented: "Last year we had a very young squad, and our youth caught up to us at Regionals. This year we are even more talented and after our conference finish, we are still hungry for success. If we just go out and compete then I believe we have the potential to do really well."
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