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Bulldog Cross Country Teams Picked Fifth

Sept. 7, 2006

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University's men's and women's cross country teams have both been picked to finish fifth in the West Coast Conference Championship this season in a vote of the league coaches.The University of Portland men's and women's squads were both picked to repeat as conference champions, both teams receiving the maximum 49 points in their respective polls.

The Gonzaga men received one first-place vote and 28 points while the Bulldog women received 21 points to tie Pepperdine University for fifth.Last season the Bulldog men and women each finished fifth in the WCC Championship.

On the men's side head coach Kevin Swaim returns five runners who competed in the WCC Championship a year ago, led by Joe Miller who was sixth. He's joined by Gabe Hayden, Brian Kramer, Colby Litzenberger and Ken Santman who were also veterans of the 2005 WCC Championship. In addition, Eric Mendoza, who redshirted last season, and Baraka Poulin, who was injured during the '05 WCC Championship, return to the fold after competing in the 2004 NCAA Far West Regional, as did Miller.

The Bulldog women return just two runners who competed in last season's WCC Championship, senior Nellie Ballou who was 16th and junior Kara Rasmussen who finished 30th.

"I think our men's team could be solid," Swaim said. "We have an excellent corps of veterans as well as some newcomers who I think will challenge the veterans for one of the top six spots."

The women's squad is a little more unsettled.

"The women's team is a little more up in the air. We have six upperclassmen returning, but we also have nine newcomers who have not competed at the collegiate level," Swaim said. "It will take us a few meets before we see how that team is going to come together. I like the talent level."

The Pilots have won the men's race 27 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 three Pilots sweeping first, second, and third in 2005. Gonzaga's men finished second from 1987-95 and again from 2003-04.

As is the case with the men's program, since its inception the WCC women's cross country championship has been dominated by Portland. The Pilots have won 16 of the 21 women's championships the WCC has sponsored, including nine of the last 10. Gonzaga won the 1995 team title and finished second in 1987, 1997 and 2000.

The 2006 WCC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championship will take place on October 28 at the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in Belmont, CA.

2006 West Coast Conference Pre-season Cross Country Coaches Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)

Men

Finish/Team Pts.1. Portland (7) 492. Loyola Marymount 38 San Francisco 384. Santa Clara 325. Gonzaga (1) 286. Pepperdine 16 San Diego 168. Saint Mary's 7

Women

Finish/Team Pts.1. Portland (7) 492. Loyola Marmount (1) 413. Santa Clara 364. San Francisco 345. Gonzaga 21 Pepperdine 217. San Diego 158. Saint Mary's 7