Cross country off to the races this weekend
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After a summer of training, the Westmont men’s and women’s cross country teams are ready to run into this upcoming season. Even though the group has just started running together, the two teams have been training since the beginning of June. Going into his 41st year of coaching at Westmont, Russell Smelley leads both teams with assistant coach Lindsey Connolly. Having coached since 1979, Smelley has led the men’s program to four Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) team championships and the women’s program to eleven GSAC team championships.
The men’s cross country team, led by captain and two-time reigning GSAC individual champion Michael Oldach, returns seven runners from last season, while adding 14 to the roster. More than doubling the size of last year’s team, this season produces one of the largest groups in recent years. However, the team will need to replace three of their top-five runners from the previous season.
Led by co-captains Amanda Colacchia and Sarah Claud, the women’s team also returns seven runners from last season, while also adding six new members to the roster. With a group consisting mostly of underclassmen, the team will need to fill in gaps on the roster, having also lost three of their top-five runners from a year ago.
Last season, both the men and women placed second at the GSAC championship race. The men’s team advanced to the NAIA National Championships, placing 27th out of 36 teams. This season, both teams are working towards winning a GSAC championship team title along with qualifying for the NAIA National Championship race, which will take place in Vancouver, Washington. Currently, the men are ranked 21st in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top-25 poll. Rankings can change based on a team’s racing performance at invitationals and are based on a point system.
The Warriors will open their season at the UC Riverside Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, racing against both NAIA schools and NCAA D1 schools. Race results can be found at finishedresults.com.