Nov. 8, 2007
LOS ANGELES, CA - LMU is fresh off the WCC Championship which saw the Loyola Marymount men finish in second place with a team score of 59 points for only the second time in LMU history (1981), and senior Laura Mickelson claim a second-place finish on the women's side to lead LMU to a third-place overall finish. Additionally, Head Coach Scott Guerrero earned co-WCC Coach of the Year honors on the men's side, sharing the accolade with Portland's Rob Conner. The Lions will now continue their postseason on Saturday at the NCAA Regionals when they head to Eugene, Ore. to participate in both the men's 10k and the women's 6k. The University of Oregon will host the NCAA West Regional Championships at the Springfield Country Club for the first time ever.
The men's 10k race is set for an 11:00 a.m. start, and the women's 6k race will begin at 12:15 p.m. The site just northeast of Eugene-Springfield is often considered one of the most scenic courses on the West Coast.
The top-two team finishers and top four individuals from non-qualifying teams from each of the nation's nine Regionals held Saturday automatically advance to the NCAA finale. Another 13 at-large teams and two at-large individuals will be added from across the nation to the 31-team, 255-runner men's and women's fields on the evening of Sunday, November 11. At-large team selection criteria is based on teams' head-to-head records against other actual and potential NCAA qualifiers.
The 2006 NCAA Regionals were held at Gresham's Blue Lake Park. There, Mickelson became the first Lion ever to qualify for the NCAA National Cross Country Championships when she finished a program-best seventh in 21:19.59. Mickelson helped the LMU women to finish 14th of 30 teams in the competitive West Region, equaling the program-best mark from two years ago.
Abby Fall (23:29.10), Kristen Gonzalez (23:30.88), Brittany Rezowalli (23.37.06), and Annie Holden (24:08.89) rounded out the women's scoring five. The LMU men, led by Drew Haberkorn, finished 22nd. Haberkorn (33:17.62), Nick Brennan (33:26.56), Trevor Wiseman (33:47.16), and Mo Elmi (33:57.38) all finished under the 34-minute mark in the 10k. Reynaldo Barrera rounded out the men's scoring five in 34:45.35.
This Saturday, the Lion women will keep the same lineup from the WCC Championship and run the seniors Mickelson and Rezowalli, juniors Ahnie Draper and Fall, sophomore Holden, freshman Brenn Donnelly and WCC Freshman of the Year Tara Erdmann.
The LMU men's team will be represented by seniors Lino Almeida, Elmi and Jonathan MacNeil, juniors Sean Sisk and Wiseman, sophomore Brian McDonald and freshman Scott Donahue. Wiseman set an LMU WCC Championship record with an 8k time of 25:30 to capture fifth place overall and lead the Lions to the second place finish two weekends ago. Loyola Marymount ran a team time of 129:16, equating to a five-man average of 25:52, over the course. In the 15-year history of the WCC Championship at Crystal Springs, the only other school to average less than 26 minutes over the distance has been the University of Portland.
"We have a very deep men's team this year which has really been our strength all year," Guerrero said. "Depth is key in a race this size. We have never finished in the top-15 on the men's side at the Regional, and if we are able to run well and crack the top-15, we'd make school history and I think we'd be happy with that." Guerrero went on to add, "Our best men's team and individual finishes at the Regional both came in 1984 when we placed 17th as a team and Richard Vicain finished 86th overall. If our runners run to their potential, we should see new records on the men's side this Saturday."
The host No. 1 ranked Oregon men are the returning Regional Champions and one of seven top-30 ranked teams in the men's race with No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 California, No. 20 Portland, No. 21 UCLA, No. 27 Arizona State and No. 28 Cal Poly.
On the women's side, the competition is equally as impressive as LMU will face-off against No. 1 Stanford, second-ranked Oregon, No. 5 Arizona State and No. 7 Washington.
Regarding the competition in the West Region, Guerrero said, "We're competing in what is arguably the deepest of the nine regions, so the competition will be very tough. Four of the top-seven women's teams in the nation are in our region and seven of the top-30 men's teams in the nation are in the West Region, more than any of the other regions."
Mickelson and the Lions will look to return to the NCAA National Cross Country Championships and the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terra Haute, Indiana with a strong performance on Saturday. At last year's event, Mickelson landed among the nation's top-50, as she finished 50th overall, and fifth from the West Region, in 21:38.