Oct. 25, 2006
(San Francisco, CA) - USF men's and women's cross country is preparing for it's biggest meet of the year, the 2006 West Coast Conference Championships, held at Crystal Springs in Belmont, CA, on Saturday October 28. The men's 8K race begins at 9:00 AM, with the women's 6K race following at 9:45 AM. The top ten finishers earn All-Conference honors and the next five earn Honorable Mention.
MEN'S RACE: Last season, the men's squad finished second only to Portland, in what was the best finish in program history. Competing for USF will be senior Jorge Martinez, juniors Cheyne Inman, Ryan Courtwright, Jacob Marx and Kenny Sparks, sophomore Alex Nelson and freshman Micael Smith.
Inman earned All-Conference Honors after finishing ninth in 26:29 last season. Courtwright was the second highest finisher for USF, coming in 12th in 26:36. Marx finished 18th in 27:00, while Martinez was 20th with a time of 27:05. Nelson finished 26th in 27:12.
Perennial power Portland once again must be considered the favorite and enter the weekend ranked No. 11. The Pilots have dominated this sport and have won an unprecedented 27 consecutive titles. Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara are also within striking distance.
Head coach Helen Lehman-Winters, the 2005 West Coast Conference Co-Coach of the Year, spoke about her goals for her men's squad at this year's meet.
"Our men are excited about the opportunity to improve on our team performance from 2005. Portland will once again run away with the team title. Gonzaga and Santa Clara are much improved teams and will provide us with plenty of competition for the runner up spot."
WOMEN'S RACE: With second and fourth place finishes, respectively, the past two years, the Dons had back-to-back top five finishes for the first time in school history. This will be the first year that women will run the 6k at the Championship event. Senior Renee Stribling, juniors Jennifer Hartford, Lucy Miller and Liz Noey, sophomore Michelle Born, and freshmen Mary Verran and Laurel Kleiber will compete.
Miller was the top finisher for USF last year, placing 14th in 18:55, followed closely by Hartford in 17th at 19:06. Stribling finished 22nd in 19:20.
Once again the Pilots look to be the class of the field and are currently ranked tenth in the western region. They have won 16 of the last 21 contests, including nine of the last ten. Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara are currently second and third in the WCC standings and look to be competitive at the meet.
Lehman-Winters believes the women's field is very deep and competitive this season.
"The 2006 women's field is the deepest in conference history. Four teams (USF, Portland, Santa Clara, and Loyola Marymount) will battle for honors. Our women are ready to roll and we are looking forward to the challenge."
With strong and prepared runners, USF looks ready to meet the competition head on. Check back on USFDons.com for the final results and recap from the day's events.