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Mickelson Set to Defend Title, LMU to Race in WCC Championship

Oct. 24, 2007

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Loyola Marymount cross country will compete in the first West Coast Conference Championship of the school year this Saturday, October 27. For the third straight season, Lions' All-Access will broadcast the league championship live and free of charge at www.LMULions.com.

Both the LMU men's and women's squads were predicted to finish third among the WCC programs in the preseason coaches' poll. Portland, which has won the race 28 straight years on the men's side and 17 of the last 22 years on the women's side, is once again picked to win the WCC team titles.

The men's 8K race begins the morning at 9:00 a.m., with the women's 6K beginning at 9:45 a.m. The women's championship was run on a 6K course for the first time in 2006, and senior Laura Mickelson captured the individual title with a time of 21:16. Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif. will serve as the home to the WCC Championship for the 23rd season.

The LMU men's team will be represented by seniors Lino Almeida, Mo Elmi and Jonathan MacNeil, juniors Sean Sisk and Trevor Wiseman, sophomore Brian McDonald and freshman Scott Donahue, who will be taking sophomore Cameron Pagett's place in the race due to Pagett's sprained ankle. In the 2005 WCC Championship race, Almeida became the top finishing male in LMU history with a fourth place finish in 25:48 en route to an All-WCC first-team selection.

Seniors Mickelson and Brittany Rezowalli, juniors Ahnie Draper and Abby Fall, sophomore Annie Holden and freshmen Brenn Donnelly and Tara Erdmann will represent the women's squad.

The LMU men are coming off a fifth place finish at the 2006 championship, finishing with 105 points, 21 points behind fourth place Gonzaga. Nicholas Brennan, who placed ninth with a time of 26:05, led the Lions on the men's side. For his efforts, Brennan earned an All-WCC first-team selection. The number-two finisher for the Lions in 2006, MacNeil, received All-WCC honorable mention recognition for his 14th-place finish in 26:27.

The men's squad will keep a close eye on 21st-ranked Portland, who has 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 receiving All-WCC honors. Portland holds a No. 4 regional ranking entering Saturday's race. Always a tough competitor, LMU will also be on the lookout for San Francisco, which captured second place to tie its best men's finish in school history last year. The Dons placed three runners in the top-10 and posted a program-best team score with 63 points.

The Lion women finished third last year with a program-record low of 53 points, 17 points behind champion Portland and just one point behind second-place finisher San Francisco. The finish marked the first time in program history that the women have finished in the top-three in consecutive seasons and the third time that the Lions placed in the top-three in the tough WCC.

Mickelson led the Lions to the third-place finish, becoming just the third LMU runner to take first place at the WCC Championship, logging a time of 21:16 on the 6K course to complete the race 1:18 ahead of the second place finisher. Mickelson went on to advance to the 2006 NCAA National Cross Country Championship, becoming the first Lion to compete on the NCAA national stage, after finishing seventh at the NCAA Regional. In preparing for her title defense, Mickelson won three individual titles this season at the Malibu Oceanside Open, Asics/UC Irvine Invitational and Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.

Kristen Gonzalez was the Lions' number-two finisher in 2006, taking sixth overall in 22:51. Fall also placed in the top-10 with a ninth-place finish of 23:14. Mickelson, Gonzalez and Fall all earned All-WCC first-team honors last season.

The LMU women will also keep an eye out for Portland, which is looking for its sixth straight WCC title as the Western region's No. 6 team. Selected as No. 2 in the WCC's preseason top-three, San Francisco will run for the title in 2007 after posting five runners in the top-15 last season.

Be sure to tune in to the live Lions' All-Access broadcast Saturday as head coach Scott Guerrero and the Lions look to top last season's record success. Former LMU cross country runners, Andy Thompson (2001-04) and Dan Judnick (2001-04), will call all of the championship action. The broadcast will also feature interviews throughout the morning. The audio webcast is free of charge after registering at www.LMULions.com. The Lions' All-Access broadcast will open with a pre-championship preview at 8:45 a.m. Saturday.