Cross Country Gears Up for WCC Championships (Weekly Release No. 6 - 10/26/00)

Up Next
The Loyola Marymount men's and women's cross country teams compete in their most important meet of the 2000 season, the West Coast Conference Championships, this Saturday, October 28 at the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif. The men will compete in an 8,000 meter race at 9:00 a.m. before a women's 5K at 9:45 to determine the WCC's top teams. Santa Clara will serve as the host school.

Last Time Out
The Lions acclimated themselves to the conditions in Belmont on Saturday, Oct. 14 as they competed in the Bronco Invitational, also held on the Crystal Springs Course. The LMU men placed fifth and were led by sophomore Eddie Giron in 19th place at 28:30. Meanwhile Jenny Aktinson paced the sixth-place Loyola Marymount women for the seventh time this season, crossing the finish line 14th overall in 20:27.

Lions Tune-Up for Postseason at Bronco Invitational
A number of Lions evidently took a liking to the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, setting personal or season-best times in their final tune-up before the WCC Championships. Freshman Chris Brown ran the fastest race of his young collegiate career, finishing third among Lion men in 30:29. On the women's side sophomore Erin Junkin and freshman Heather Montgomery also established new personal best times of 21:15 and 21:43, respectively. Meanwhile senior team captain Traci Pantuso notched her best effort of the 2000 season (20:41), finishing 21st overall. Although sophomore Eddie Giron did not run his fastest race of the season at the Bronco Invite, he paced the LMU men's contingent at the meet for the second consecutive year at 28:30 (19th overall).

WCC Championship History
The 1999 West Coast Conference Championships saw both the Loyola Marymount men and women place seventh out of eight schools. The University of Portland claimed team titles in both races. In men's action Michael Cortez led the Lions for the second straight season, scoring his best-ever conference championship time of 28:03 while finishing 24th overall. LMU's Malinalli Martinez put an exclamation point on her collegiate career by taking sixth place at the WCC's in 19:01. The highest conference championship finish for the Loyola Marymount men was second in 1981, while the women won the event in 1980 and 1984. The Lions' Therese Kozlowski was the 1980 individual title before Maureen Corrigan did the same in 1984. Tom Carlton carded a fifth place effort in 1981, the highest men's finish in LMU men's cross country history.

1999 Season Review
The Lions showed marked improvement last season under Head Coach Scott Guerrero. The LMU women placed seventh at the West Coast Conference Championships, up one spot from 1998, and went on to a 26th place showing at the NCAA West Regionals in Portland, Ore. On the men's side, Loyola Marymount also placed seventh at the conference meet, and then finished 21st at the Regional meet. The Lion men excelled in the classroom as well as on the course as they earned the highest team GPA among all 17 intercollegiate sports at LMU. In addition, three Loyola Marmount racers -- current seniors Michael Cortez and Mark Siegfried and departed women's racer Bevin Steensen earned WCC All-Academic honors.

LMU Head Coach Scott Guerrero is in his third year as the leader of the Lions. Guerrero, also a distance runner, brings change and enthusiasm to a program that has not had a top three finish in the WCC since 1991 for the men, and 1985 for the women. A 1990 graduate of Tulane University, Guerrero also earned a master's degree in education from Cal State Dominguez Hills. He will be assisted this season by Laura Cattivera White, a former Olympic Trials qualifier and All-American runner at Princeton.