Cross Country Team Heads To Pac-10 Championships in Oregon

Oct. 29, 2008

The USC women's cross country team will compete at the 2008 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships hosted by Oregon in Springfield, Ore. on Friday, Oct. 31. The meet is scheduled to start at 2:25 p.m. on the Springfield Country Club golf course and the projected weather for that day is 54 degrees with showers.

'We have good momentum going into this week,' said USC cross country coach Tom Walsh. 'I was a little concerned after the Aztec Invitational, but since then the team has really stepped it up and shown the commitment to running fast. The practice and the energy around this program has been really high and the girls are looking forward to this meet because they know they can run faster.'

USC will be sending seven runners to compete at the Pac-10s: Juniors Katherine Ellis, Chanel Fischetti, Christine Greer and Bridget Helgerson, sophomores Sarah Cocco, Zsofia Erdelyi and Zara Lukens. Freshman Leah Gaeta will serve as USC's alternate for the Pac-10 Championships. Five members of USC's team have run the course, as it served as the site of the 2007 NCAA West Regional.

USC is coming off back-to-back wins at the Pepperdine Invitational and the Roadrunner Invitational, a feat not accomplished by a Trojan team since the 1997 season. In Bakersfield on Oct. 17, Erdelyi led the way by winning the meet with a school 5K record of 16:51.90. Not far behind her were Helgerson who finished third with a time of 17:25.30 and Cocco who took fourth place with a time of 17:33.60.

'Zsofia has won two in a row and has practiced well and is looking forward to improving off of last year's 45th-place finish,' said Walsh.

USC placed eighth at the Pac-10 Championships a year ago in the race held in Corvallis, Ore. Stanford has won the last 12 Pac-10 titles, but they currently ranked fourth in the West Region behind Washington (No. 1 in the country), Oregon (No. 2 in the country) and Arizona State. USC is ranked No. 12 in the West Region as nine of the 10 conference teams are ranked in the top 15 in the region. The Pac-10 cross country champion has gone on to win four of the last six NCAA championships.

'From top to bottom, this is the toughest Pac-10 race in my 15 years,' added Walsh. 'We have the top two teams in the country and there are no weak teams. Every single team in the conference is a really good team.'

Also at stake for USC is the five points in the Lexus Gauntlet competition. USC defeated the Bruins last season at the Pac-10 Championships to earn crucial points in the season-long competition between the two schools won in 2007-08 by USC.

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