Written by Student Assistant Sean Davis
After a strong track season in the spring, the Santa Clara cross country team is looking to carry its track success into the fall. Most SCU students will spend their summer working a job or enjoying some relaxation. The SCU men's and women's cross team not only participates in these activities but they also run anywhere from 50-85 plus miles a week, coupled with strength training and cross training.
These dedicated student-athletes are putting in the time and effort this summer to be ready for the 2013 season. The team will officially come together and begin practices five weeks before school starts and they will also take a three-day camping trip to New Brighton State Beach in Capitola to train and bond as a team. A camp like this allows the team to be completely focused on their training and really grow close as teammates.
When asked about their philosophy regarding summer training and preparing for the 2013 cross country season, Bronco coaches Felipe Montoro and Pete Cushman seemed confident in where their team is at for this time of the year, "Although there is no official practice, everyone is responding well to the training and a big key for us is that we are mostly healthy," Montoro explained.
"Our philosophy is that there is a guideline our runners should follow but there is no one specific structure they need to follow over the summer," said Cushman. "Their goals are to build volume and occasionally do progression type runs that develop their high end aerobic strength and hill work late in the summer."
Without a doubt the SCU XC men and women are working hard this summer in an effort to be ready for this season.
On the men's side, the Broncos are hoping to see big performances out of veterans Ben Demaree, Bryan Crook and Luca Signore. "We have many veterans who have proven their athletic ability and their leadership ability, they are our core on the men's side," said Cushman. "But the good news is that there are a lot of people beyond those three that could make a big impact and be potential X factors for us."
"There is some depth for us this season something we usually don't have which is really nice for us," Montoro added. In a sport where the top 10 athletes are equally vital to the teams success, having depth is a huge advantage for the Broncos cross team this year.
Some of that depth and support will be coming from the younger runners on the team in Adrian Hinojosa, Sam Holeman and Ryan Greenough. "If our younger runners are able to continue to improve and adjust to collegiate racing, we could surprise some teams this season," said Montoro.
On the woman's side, this year is promising to be a great season. "Both Pete and I are really excited," said Montoro. "We return our top five runners from regionals. We do lose Hayley Ney, Mary Reynolds and Erin Hartwig, but we will be returning the bulk of our scorers from last year."
Having veteran runners on the squad that have experience in scoring and racing in the post season is a great advantage to have. "Just like with the men, the women had a great track season," said Cushman.
Even with the positive momentum, both coaches realize that they are in a tough conference and are going to need everybody to step up and help the team. "We are looking at Mary Kriege, who is on her way back from injury, Emily Robinson, who is having a great summer, as well as Lauren and Kayla Germany who had great spring track seasons. It's hard to narrow it down though, all our women are looking really strong," Montoro added. "Our conference is really competitive, so our goal is to continue to get better and for them to realize that they are able to compete with the other top women in our conference. If we can stay healthy and continue improving, we should be pretty good."
Another source of pride for the men's and women's cross country team has been their incredible academic success. Led by Summa Cum Laude graduate Kevin Oliver's selection to the national individual Academic Award list in July, the Bronco track programs were honored among all Division I teams as the Bronco men posted the second-highest GPA nation-wide at 3.506 when they were named as a U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's (USTFCCCA) All-Academic team.
Posting a 3.57 grade point average, the sixth-best nationally and tops in the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara's women's track team was named an All-Academic team as well.
When asked why his team has been so successful in the classroom Montoro reflected for a moment, "I think it's just who our team is. I think that's what you get when you coach at a place like Santa Clara, student athletes come here to experience the balance between academics and athletics," Montoro added.
Another big factor in the team's academic success is the type of kids they recruit and the attitude a disciplined runner has. "We are really proud of our academic achievements and I think that the type of student athlete that ends up coming here is one that values academic success and wants to keep it going," said Montoro.
To be a distance runner takes hours of hard work and continual dedication. Very often this type of work ethic on the trail carries over to the type of work ethic it takes to be successful in the classroom.
Apart from continuing their academic success, the Bronco cross country team is setting their goals high for next season. Coach Montoro described the focus he wants his team to have by stating, "The focus is on being as successful as possible in the post season We have high expectations for this season, but we are really just focusing on continuing to getting better," said Montoro. "We don't expect anything to be easy, and are working hard to get back into the top half of the conference."
Cushman then described the structure of the season by explaining, "I feel like we always divide our season up into three parts; there is preseason, which is our opener with USF, our dual with St. Mary's and the WCC preview meet. In all these races we will train right through and they will be our opportunity to get a race in but we will run full volume the day before. Then we will have what we call our regular season and that will consist of the Stanford Invite, our home meet (the Bronco Invite) and the San Francisco State meet. Then obviously our post-season will be conference, regionals and Nationals."
"Our approach is more about building into the year and building on the momentum that we have, there is not a whole lot of peak at the end but more of a building on of what we have been doing all season," added Cushman.
With this approach in mind, there is no doubt that the focus of success is on the post season for both the men's and women's teams. In the post season, the top seven to 9 athletes on the team will get a chance to compete in the conference, regional and hopefully national meet. Unfortunately the whole team cannot race in the post season. This selection process is based off the entire season of performances and is not finalized until the end of the season, generally after the Bronco Invite. Intense competition to make the top 9 is part of the process, but it all leads to the greater strengthening and success of the team.
"We measure the teams pick based off the measure of the entire year, but we want the best nine on the line come conference," Cushman added.
When asked what type of goals they were setting for their team next season for the men and women, both Cushman and Montoro emphasized that their goals were task-oriented and focused on each individual athlete growing into the best runner they can be, but they also were focusing on the post season. "I think if all things fall into place, our men have the talent to be in the top 3-4 teams in our conference, and then at the regional level, placing in the top 15 is always our goal," said Cushman.
Montoro went on to add for the women, "We want to raise their own expectations of what they are capable of and believe in their own ability and that of their teammates."
"This is the year I think this veteran team starts to believe they belong and not be intimidated," said Cushman. "But just feeling that whatever line we are on, we belong in that race. I truly believe that we do belong on the line of any race."
The Bronco cross country team is putting in the work this summer and they are setting their goals high for this season. Both in the classroom and on the course, the Broncos are striving for excellence. Make sure you follow the Bronco cross country teams progress this fall to cheer them on in their 2013 season!