Cross Country Teams Close Season at NCAA Regionals (Weekly Release No. 7 - 11/8/00)

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The Loyola Marymount men's and women's cross country teams will conclude their 2000 racing season at the NCAA District 9 Regional Championships this Saturday, Nov. 11 at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif. The women will compete in a 5,000-meter race at 10:00 a.m. before a men's 10K at 11:00 a.m. The top two men's and women's teams in Fresno will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in Ames, Ia., on Nov. 20. An additional 13 teams from throughout the country will receive at-large births to the NCAA's on Nov. 13.

Last Time Out
The Lions began their postseason competition at the West Coast Conference Championships, Oct. 28 in Belmont, Calif. Senior Michael Cortez led the LMU men at the WCC's for a third straight year, clocking in at 27:48 (19th place). On the women's side sophomore Erin Junkin paced LMU, crossing the finish line 21st in a time of 20:20.

PR's Abound at WCC Championships
A number of Lions saved their fastest performances for the postseason, setting personal or season bests at the West Coast Conference Championships. Senior Michael Cortez established a new PR of 27:48 while notching the highest conference finish (19th) of his four-year career. Meanwhile sophmore Eddie Giron continued his trend of strong performances on the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, running the fastest race of his career (27:52) and placing 21st overall. Lifetime bests were also carded by sophomore Justin Goodkind and freshman Chris Brown. On the women's side, sophomore Erin Junkin, in her first year of competitive cross country racing, lowered her PR by nearly a full minute to 20:20 at the WCC's. Senior team captain Traci Pantuso picked an opportune time for her fastest time of the 2000 season, placing second on the team in 20:29. The future looks bright for Loyola Marymount cross country as freshman Heather Montgomery lowered her lifetime best for a second straight meet to 21:31.

NCAA Regional History
After a lengthy hiatus from NCAA Regional competition, Head Coach Scott Guerrero began sending his Lions to the District 9 Championships when he took over the program in 1998. Last season the Loyola Marymount men enjoyed a 21st place finish while the Lion women finished 26th overall, led by senior Malinalli Martinez's respectable 65th place effort of 19:31 in Portland, OR. Mary Corrigan notched the highest NCAA Regional finish in LMU history, crossing the finish line 51st overall in 1984 (19:20). That same year Richard Vicain set the standard for Lion men's racers, finishing 86th in a time of 35:14.

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.