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SEASON OUTLOOK: Lions Ready to Run

Aug. 31, 2007

LOS ANGELES - The Loyola Marymount men's and women's cross country squads will look to improve upon solid 2006 team and individual performances as they begin their quest to reach the top of the West Coast Conference in 2007. Last year, WCC Individual Champion Laura Mickelson led to the women to a third-place finish, the first time in program history that they finished in the top-3 in consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, the men raced to a fifth-place finish in the competitive WCC.

Both squads are coached once again by Scott Guerrero, now in his 10th season at the helm of the cross country programs. Guerrero also spearheaded the resurrection of the LMU track program, which will enter its third season as a sanctioned sport in the spring of 2008.

The women return two runners who earned first-team all-conference recognition in 2006, including Mickelson and fellow All-WCC selection Abby Fall, who also posted a top-10 individual finish at the 2006 WCC Championship. Mickelson and Fall are joined by 2005 first-team All-WCC pick Brittany Rezowalli, and sophomore Annie Holden, who finished in the Lions' scoring-five at the 2006 NCAA West Regionals.

The LMU returning women will be joined by a talented group of newcomers, including Brenn Donnelly, Tara Erdmann, Kristina Fernandez, Shea Franklin, Maggie Harms, and Brooke Lademan.

For the women, the 2006 third-place team finish was the third time in program history that Lions placed in the top-3 in the tough WCC. It was also the second time in six years that a Lion woman was crowned individual WCC Champion, as Mickelson outran the pack by more than a minute.

"Our women have been there before," LMU Head Coach Scott Guerrero said. "We return three women who are upperclassmen and who have run All-WCC in the last two seasons. I expect they will be the ones leading the charge, as I know our seniors are motivated to do well. Laura is clearly our superstar, and I can guarantee you that she has very high expectations for her final year. It should be a fun ride, and I am looking forward to it."

LMU finished fifth on the men's side in 2006, marking its fourth-straight top-5 team finish. This season, the men's team will welcome back 2005 first-team All-WCC selection Lino Almeida, who utilized his redshirt season in 2006. Almeida was LMU's highest-placing individual male ever at the 2005 WCC Championship with his fourth place finish.

The Lions will also be led by a veteran squad of returners that includes four of the Lions' scoring-five at last year's 2006 WCC Championships: Sean Sisk, Trevor Wiseman, Mo Elmi, and All-WCC honorable mention selection Jonathan MacNeil.

Newcomers to the men's squad include Jacques Delouche, Scott Donahue, Brian McDonald, Connor Pastoor, and Mike Seus.

"Without a doubt, this is the strongest group of guys that LMU has ever seen," Guerrero said. "We have great leadership returning on the men's side with lots of experience. I expect our upperclassmen to be in our varsity seven, but they will definitely be pushed by a talent-laden group of younger guys. This is my 10th season at LMU, and I can unequivocally state that I am more excited about this upcoming season than I have ever been. I think that says it all."

Running a 2007 schedule that is loaded with several local Southern California races in order to prepare them for another good showing at the WCC Championships, the Lions will open the season Saturday, September 1 with the Pepperdine Dual, their first of two races in Malibu, Calif. in 2007.

Other notable stops include the San Diego State Aztec Invitational, the Stanford Invitational, and the Cal State Fullerton Titan Invitational.

The Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif., will once again be the site of the WCC Championships, as the senior Mickelson tries to become the first back-to-back individual champion in LMU history and just the second in WCC women's cross country. The 2007 conference championship is set for October 27.

-GO LIONS-