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Santa Clara Sends First Ever Runner to the NCAA Championships

Nov. 20, 2009

Santa Clara, Calif. - Senior Stephanie Wilson will be in Terre Haute, Ind. preparing for the NCAA Cross Country Championship Monday morning. Wilson's NCAA title berth is the first-ever for a Santa Clara cross country runner.

The men's NCAA Championship, a 10K, will be run at 9:08 am (Pacific). The women's NCAA Championship, a 6K, will be run at 9:58 am (Pacific). Both races will be nationally televised on the Versus channel.

Wilson qualified for the NCAA Championship by finishing sixth last weekend in the NCAA West Regional - considered the toughest region in the country. She was the top runner from California - finishing only behind three runners from No. 1 Washington and two runners from No. 3 Oregon. She also won the WCC title in late October. All of her accomplishments are pretty amazing considering the junior didn't make the WCC travel squad two years ago.

Having run with the 'big girls' many times this season, it's a feat Bronco head coach Tom Service isn't ruling out. "There will be 255 women running in the race from all over the country. We want to be competitive, which would be top 75. Our ultimate goal on Monday is for Stephanie to finish as an All-American."

Wilson will need to finish in the top 40 to be named the schools first cross country All-American.

Service said many might think qualifying for the national championship would be the ultimate goal and running in it the 'icing on the cake', but no so for Wilson or Service. "Stephanie is running with so much confidence right now," said Service. "It's definitly going to help her knowing she ran in the top region and she was in the front with them. I just don't think she will get stage fright and be awed when she gets there by Michigan, Illinois, Villanova, etc. She has already run with the best."

Wilson said the thought of running in the NCAA final has sunk it. "It took a day or so to sink in, but now I am getting ready to race. I was so excited after the race that I made it."

Odd to some maybe, the San Jose native is most looking forward to seeing the Midwest - the countryside - and of course the race. But Wilson said she will handle this like any other trip. "I want to stay with the lead pack like I did the last race and hope for the best. It's a business trip."

Service said he and Wilson looked at her training schedule for the 10 days after the regional because normally race day is Saturday and not Monday. "Distance runners are creatures of habit and we wanted to keep the schedule as close to race prep weeks."

Service said the most amazing thing about Wilson is her mental preparation. "We knew she was extremely fit and capable, but it's one thing to do it in the practice course and quite another on race day to execute. It's just amazing."

Courtesy of Santa Clara University Sports Information