June 13, 2006
Los Angeles, Calif. - Lion fans can relive the 2005-2006 West Coast Conference Commissioner's Cup all summer on www.LMULions.com as we look back on cup-clinching moments every Tuesday beginning June 13. In this first installment, we look at the first LMU programs to turn heads this season: Lion cross country. The 2005 LMU cross country campaign brought several individual and team milestones. Among those were the second (women) and third (men) place finishes at the West Coast Conference Championships in October.
The cross country season took the Lions from tragedy to triumph. The team mourned the loss of captain Adam Bacon, who passed in an auto accident August 5, 2005. The tragic loss came just weeks before Bacon was to lead the Lions in his senior campaign. The Lions used all they had learned from their captain to post a history book season that concluded with top finishes at the WCC Championships and the NCAA Regionals.
NCAA Regionals Cap Record Season
LMU wrapped-up a storied season when it finished 14th and 21st at the NCAA West Regional in Palo Alto, Calif. It was a record-breaking day for the Lions, who set new 6K and 10K team time records and placed higher in the women's competition than ever before at an NCAA Regional. The women closed out their history-making season by finishing 14th in the region, the school's highest placing. The women's 6000m team time of 111:09.6 (a 22:14 average) smashed LMU's previous 6K best of 115:26 (a 23:05 average). Laura Mickelson led the Lions, finishing in the top-30 in the region with a time of 21:22.9. Sara Mickelson joined her in the top-50 with a 21:41.3 mark. The men's team time of 169:38.2 (a 33:55 average) is the school's fastest team time for the 10K distance and LMU's fastest team time at an NCAA Regional. The 2004 squad ran the same NCAA race in 171:21, for an average of 34:16. The Lions were led by Lino Almeida, who finished in the top-100 with a time of 33:00.1.
Lions Impress at WCCs
LMU took second (women) and third (men) at the 2005 WCC Championship. For the women, the second place team finish was the highest finish in LMU history. Before today's results, the 1985 squad held the best finish in LMU's WCC Championship history when it finished third. Saturday's finish also marked the lowest LMU team score ever, as the Lions finished with 58 points, besting the previous mark of 71 set in that 1985 season. It was LMU's fastest team time (93:35), fastest team average (18:43), and season-best gap (0:49). The women have run the same 5000m course since the WCC begin sponsoring a championship for women in 1985, thus making today's race the 21st annual appearance by the Lions on the Belmont course. The Lions' overall team time of 93:35 represents the fifth-fastest overall team time for any school in conference championship history. LMU put six finishers in the top-20 for the first time in school history.
LMU finished third on the men's side, the first time the men have garnered a top-three finish since 1991. Sophomore Lino Almeida finished fourth overall, becoming the all-time highest finishing individual male in school history. Prior to Saturday's race, the highest finish for an LMU male at the WCC Championships was fifth, a mark achieved twice by Tom Carlton in both 1981 and 1983. The last time an LMU male finished in the top-10 was in 1984 when Richard Vicain finished 10th. Almeida's finishing time of 25:48 sets a new school record for the 8000m WCC Championship course, shattering his own record of 26:58 set just last year during his freshman season. All of LMU's top-five finishing marks rank in LMU's top-10 all-time times on the WCC 8K course. The team's average of 26:44 was 22 seconds better than the Lions' 2004 average, making it the all-time best LMU team average at the WCC Championship. The men clocked a faster team time than second place San Francisco, but USF out-scored the Lions by just four points. The 2004 championship saw the Dons clock the faster team time, but LMU took the two-point edge.
Lion Fans Follow WCC Championships Live for First Time
For the first time in program history, fans who couldn't make the trip with the Lions to the WCC Championships were still able to follow all of the action as it happened. A.J. Gutierrez and Damian Kearney brought the race to Lion fans over the internet, broadcasting live from Belmont, Calif. on Lions' All-Access.
LMU Women Earn School's First Regional Ranking
On the heels of the program's best WCC Championship finish in LMU history, the Lions achieved another first: a regional ranking. The LMU women were ranked 10th in the west region in the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches' Association's (WICCCA) final poll before the NCAA Regional meet on November 12.
Lions Among the Best in the WCC
Following the strong showing at the WCC Championship, four Lions were first-team selections, two received honorable mention recognition, and Head Coach Scott Guerrero was named women's WCC Coach of the Year. In his eighth season with the Lions, Guerrero took a squad that was predicted to finish fifth in the WCC to second place at the 2005 WCC Championship and a program-first top-10 western regional ranking. Sophomores Laura Mickelson (seventh in 18:23), Brittany Rezowalli (eighth in 18:24), and Sara Mickelson (ninth in 18:34) each finished in the top-10 Saturday to lead the Lions to the second place team finish. Each was named first-team All-WCC for her top-10 finish. Fellow sophomore Claudia Bishop (15th in 19:02) received WCC honorable mention recognition for her top-15 finish. On the men's side, Lino Almeida (25:48) was named first-team All-WCC after finishing fourth, the highest individual finish for the men's team in LMU history. Finishing 14th overall, Reynaldo Barrera (26:50) was named All-WCC honorable mention. This year's all-conference selections outnumber the combined total from all of Guerrero's previous seven seasons.
Laura Mickelson Named LMU's Female Student-Athlete of the Year
Laura Mickelson was named LMU's Female Student-Athlete of the Year. In just her second season at LMU, Mickelson has become one of the premier runners in the WCC. Her top-10 finish at the WCC Championship earned her first-team All-WCC honors. In regionals, Mickelson went on to earn a top-30 finish. The 3.93 natural science major has also earned a 4.0 in two of her last four semesters and is a member of the Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society. She has donated time to campus service organization Sursum Corda and has also volunteered with Feed the Hungry and the Los Angeles Marathon.
Sara Mickelson Becomes First Lion to Earn WCC Runner of the Month Honors
Sophomore Sara Mickelson was named the WCC Female Runner of the Month for the month of October. With the announcement, Mickelson became the first-ever Lion to earn the selection. Honored for her athletic performance during October, the El Segundo, Calif. native led the Lions at the Cal Poly Invitational, crossing the line in a career-best 18:01.8 for a top-five finish. Mickelson finished ahead of 2003 West Coast Conference Individual Champion and September's WCC Runner of the Month Tiffanie Marley of San Diego. Mickelson helped LMU finished second of 12 teams.