The men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in their final regular season meets this month, with the two groups traveling to Sunnyvale, California on Saturday to compete in the Bronco Invitational, followed by the Titan Invitational on Oct. 25 in Fullerton. The Lions will then enter the postseason on Nov. 1, with both teams heading to Van Nuys to compete in the West Coast Conference (WCC) Championships.
The Lions have competed in three meets this season with their full “A” squads. The squads started the season with two strong performances at the Aug. 31 Mark Covert Classic, where the men and women placed third and fifth place out of 19 and 21 teams, respectively. The two groups then traveled to Colfax, Washington for the Cougar Classic, where the men finished in fourth of ten teams and the women finished fourth among eight.
The men were led by sophomore Max Smith, who finished the 8-kilometer course in 51st place out of 282 total runners in the seeded section. Smith crossed the line with a time of 24:56.7, the fastest time for the Lions this season.
Smith was trailed by redshirt senior Roc Johnson (25:10.0) and junior Joseph Garcia (25:15.2). The two men finished the course in 74th and 83rd place, respectively. Junior Kyle Friedler (86th, 25:18.6) and sophomore Zach Arias (94th, 25:20.9) rounded out the Lions’ top five.
The women were led by redshirt senior Kyla Danforth, who finished the 6-kilometer course in 16th place out of 324 total seeded competitors. Danforth’s 21:05.8 is the fastest time for the team this year, and is the 13th fastest time in program history for the distance, according to LMU Athletics.
Freshman Gabriela Hernandez scored second for the Lions in the race, registering an 83rd place overall performance with a time of 21:57.5. She was followed by junior Hannah Wohlenberg, who finished in 110th at 22:12.7. Senior Ann Kelly (155th, 22:35.0) and junior Danielle Rowlinson (159th, 22:37.0) were the fourth and fifth scorers for the team.
The Lions will focus next on the Bronco and Titan Invitationals before descending into postseason racing at the Nov. 1 WCC Championships. In the annual preseason conference coaches’ poll last September, the men’s team was predicted to finish in sixth place out of the nine programs in the conference, while the women were picked to finish fourth of ten. Last year, the two teams finished in sixth and fourth in the conference championships, respectively.