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Cross Country Teams Tabbed For Sixth

Sept. 4, 2007

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University's men's and women's cross country teams have both been picked to finish sixth in their respective West Coast Conference Championships in a vote of the league's coaches.

The University of Portland is favored to sweep the championships as both were picked to repeat as conference champions. The Pilots received the maximum 49 points in their respective polls, getting the first place nod from all seven other coaches in the league. The University of San Francisco received the remaining first place votes in both polls and was predicted to finish second in the men's and women's races.

"Both of our teams are relatively young and somewhat inexperienced," Gonzaga head coach Kevin Swaim said. "To pick us to finished sixth is probably realistic, but at the same time I think we have the capability to surprise some people and finish higher."

The Bulldogs have no seniors on the men's roster, and Amanda Gillman is the lone senior dotting the women's squad.

Junior Colby Litzenberger and sophomore Brett Withers are the two lone men who competed in the WCC Championship last fall for the men, while sophomores Ashlee Commeree, Madeleine Gianotti and Lili Hansen competed on the women's side as freshmen.

The Bulldog men, with five upperclassmen in key roles, were fourth a year ago while the women were seventh.

The Pilots, meanwhile, have won the men's race 28 consecutive years, the longest streak in any sport in WCC history. Portland runners have also taken the top individual spot in as many years, with the Pilots placing four of the top five finishers in the 2006 race. Five Portland runners finished among the top 11 in 2006, with all five harriers receiving All-WCC honors.

USF captured second place last season to tie its best men's finish in school history, placing three runners in the top 10 and posting a program-best team score with 63 points.

As is the case with the men's program, the WCC women's cross country championship has been dominated by Portland since its inception. The Pilots have won 17 of the 22 women's championships the WCC has sponsored, including 10 of the last 11. The women's championship was run on a 6K course for the first time in 2006, and Loyola Marymount University's Laura Mickelson captured the individual title with a time of 21:16. USF set a program-record with 52 points en route to a second place finish.

LMU was picked third in the men's poll with 37 points, and Santa Clara University was tabbed for a fourth place finish with 31 points. Pepperdine University (23) edged the Bulldogs (22) for fifth place, and the University of San Diego collected 12 points to take the seventh spot in the poll. Saint Mary's College rounds out the listing in eighth place with nine points.

The women's poll mirrors the men's poll, with the Lions picked for a third-place finish with 37 points and SCU grabbing the fourth place spot with 32 points. Pepperdine was slated for a fifth-place finish with 26 points, while Gonzaga garnered 15 points for sixth. USD received 13 points to rank just behind the Bulldogs, and Saint Mary's gathered 11 points to close out the listing.

The 2007 WCC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championship will take place Oct. 27 at the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in Belmont, Calif.

2007 WCC Preseason Cross Country Poll Results
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Men
1. Portland (7) 492. San Francisco (1) 413. Loyola Marymount 374. Santa Clara 315. Pepperdine 236. Gonzaga 227. San Diego 128. Saint Mary's 9

Women
1. Portland (7) 492. San Francisco (1) 413. Loyola Marymount 374. Santa Clara 325. Pepperdine 266. Gonzaga 157. San Diego 138. Saint Mary's 11