MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's men's and women's cross country team are gearing up for the NCAA Western Regional race on Saturday, November 12 at Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif. The men's 10K race begins at 10:00 a.m. with the women's 6K race starting at 11:15 a.m. The Gaels are looking to set new team records on a course where the Gaels have already had a strong race earlier in the year.
On September 24 the Gaels raced in the Stanford Invitational which is held on the Stanford Golf Course. At that race the men's team averaged a team-time of 26:17 which is just 25 seconds off the team record set at the 2008 Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, Washington. The women clocked in with a time 23:33 which is just nine seconds behind the team record set at least year's Stanford Invitational.
On the men's side the Gaels will bring six runners, led by sophomore Rajpaul Pannu. Pannu cracked the top-50 at the Stanford Invitational, finishing with a time of 25:06, which is tied for the third fastest time in SMC history. Also running for the men is Jordan Lerma, James Hayes, Mark Blucher, Nick Ellingson, and Mark Klunk.
"On the men's side, we are going in shooting for a school record. Raj should be shooting for our school record in the 10K," said associate head coach Mark Carberry. "The school record in the 10K for SMC 31:54 and right now he's in a great position to go beneath that."
On the women's side the Gaels will be sending six runners as well, going for the Gaels will be senior Natalie Sojka, freshman standout Cristina Garcia, as well as Alicia Doohan who has had an exceptional year, Maria Ahlqvist who is coming on strong, Erin Burke, and Elizandra Obando.
"On the women's side, we set a school record at this meet last year, and what we are looking for this year is to set another school record. All in all, we are looking for all of them to improve on their Stanford time from a month ago. We are looking for Cristina, Maria and Natalie to all finish under 23," said Carberry.
The Gaels will be competing against some of the toughest teams in the country. On the men's side the Gaels will be racing against Stanford, Portland, Oregon and UCLA all of which rank in the top-25 in the nation. On the women's side SMC will square off against Washington, Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona who are in the top-25 in the nation.
For fans looking for up to the minute updates for both the men's and women's cross country teams be sure to follow the Gaels cross country on twitter @SMCXC. Also be sure to follow all of the Gaels team's @smcgaels.