Bulldog Runners Compete In WCC Championship

Oct. 31, 2003

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's and women's cross country teams will try to break the lock the University of Portland has had on the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championship on Saturday.

The 29th running of the men's race and the 19th version of the women's meet unfold at Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif., with the first race starting at 9 a.m.

Portland has won 24 straight WCC men's titles, the only team to win the title under the current alignment of the WCC. The Pilots have also captured 13 women's crowns, including six of the last seven.

The Bulldog women do have a team crown to their credit, winning the 1995 title before the Pilots went on their current streak. The Gonzaga men finished second to Portland for nine straight years from 1987-95, a 13-point deficit in 1993 the closest the Bulldogs came to snapping the Portland domination.

The Bulldog men have not finished better than third since that string of bridesmaid finishes and have been fifth each of the past two seasons. The Gonzaga women were second a year ago and in 1997, their best finishes since taking the title.

But head coach Kevin Swaim thinks his squads can be in the hunt this season.

"I think both teams can place in the top three," Swaim said. "We've been running well. It's always tough to challenge Portland because they are so strong, so the real race, especially on the men's side, is usually for second. I think both of our teams can get there. We had last weekend off, so we should be rested and strong."

Juniors Ryan Anderson and Joe Manning, and freshman Joe Miller have been the most consistent performers for the Bulldogs. Manning finished 11th, Anderson 13th a year ago in the WCC Championship. Anderson has the ninth best 8K time among WCC runners this season with a 25:11.0 at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle.

Sophomores Jill Semenza and Jamie Schiel have paced the Bulldog women most of the season. Semenza was 19th, Schiel 28th in last year's meet. Emily Buck has also posted some solid times this season and was 24th in last year's WCC meet, as has junior Cathy Hall who was 48th in the WCC last season.

Rounding out the lineup on the men's side are juniors Eric Berge, Dan Futrell and David Hannon, and senior Pete Cushman, Completing the women's entries are freshman Nellie Ballou, sophomore Naomi Gilna and senior Larisa Manuel.

"In order to be successful we have to have everybody at the top of their race, and then hope a couple of runners have personal bests to pick up an extra place or two. That's the difference in these races," Swaim said.

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