Cross Country Teams Begin Season on Saturday

Rachel Rant

Aug 28, 2013

MALIBU, Calif. - For the second consecutive year the Pepperdine cross country team's roster will feature many new faces. The Waves return a total of 10 letterwinners from the 2012 squad (seven women and three men).

On the women's side, 13 of the 21 runners are freshmen. Of the men, eight of the 11 are freshmen.

The team recently returned from a trip to Catalina Island where head coach Robert Radnoti said the team really started to mesh.

"It's a camping trip, but it's really a good one because of the number of freshman we have," he said. "It allowed us to really focus on building that team, building that family, and really building the bonds that are going to carry us through the next four years for these freshmen."

Although there are plenty of unfamiliar names to both the men's and women's teams, there are also many key contributors back from last year's squad. On the men's side all three returners competed at the 2012 WCC Championships: senior Jesse Aston (Martinez, Calif./Alhambra HS) and sophomores Chris Hostetler (El Cajon, Calif./Steele Canyon Charter HS) and Mark Vega (Orange, Calif./Villa Park HS).

With eight incoming freshmen on the men's side, Radnoti believes that this recruiting class is special.

"Our team will be much stronger than last year and we're really excited about that," he said. "We've got seven pretty strong freshmen. Gordie Thomas (Fallbrook, Calif./Great Oak HS) and Ben Fox (Colorado Springs, Colo./ Cheyenne Mountain HS) have been our top two freshman runners and right behind them is Nick Blanchard (Portland, Conn./Portland HS), Aric Crowell (Claremont, Calif./Claremont HS), Jackson Hogan (University Place, Wash./Curtis Senior HS) Torin Wile (Beverly Hills, Mich./Brother Rice HS) and John Lawler (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./ Honeoye Falls-Lima HS). All of them will make an impact this year, and down the line are going to be strong Division I runners."



Of the nine Pepperdine women that ran at the 2012 WCC Championships, six are back: senior Hayley Lytle (Huntington Beach, Calif./ Huntington Beach HS), sophomore Katie Engel (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima HS), sophomore Rachel Rant (Boise, Idaho/Boise HS), 2012 senior Sarah Attar (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS), sophomore Stasia Demick (Seattle, Wash./Holy Names Academy) and sophomore Kelly Smyth (Toms River, N.J./Toms River HS East).

Two familiar faces should also help the team. Junior Lisa Santroch (Shoreline, Wash./ Shoreline HS) came over from the soccer team, and senior Adrianna Davies (Coronado, Calif./ Coronado HS) returns from injury.

"Lisa is a really strong runner and we're really excited to welcome her to the team," Radnoti said. "We get Adrianna back and she is a very experienced runner as well."

Radnoti has high expectations for the incoming freshman class and leading the way will be Elle Lemco (San Jose, Calif./Prospect HS) and Lindsay Sheaffer (Portland, Ore./Jesuit HS) with Sydney Gray (Bellingham, Wash./Meridian HS), Amberly Gil (Porter Ranch, Calif./Louisville HS), and Ellie Smith (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck HS) also expected to contribute.

The team captains for this year's squad are Lytle and Engel on the women's side and Aston and Vega on the men's. With so many freshmen on the team this year, Radnoti expects his captains to lead by example.

"I've asked our captains to focus on the creation of the right culture and they get it," he said. "They understand exactly what we're trying to create. We want to create a team that is going to be competitive in the WCC."

This year the Waves will be hosting their first large-scale home meet for the first time since 2007. First up is the Pepperdine Invitational on Sept. 14, which will serve as a preview meet for the West Coast Conference Championships. The Waves will also host the conference meet for the first time in school history on November 2.

Prior to the last year when the WCC Championships began rotating among school sites, the meet had been held at the same course in Northern California for 20-plus years. Radnoti is eager to show the rest of the conference what Malibu has to offer.

"We're really excited about the opportunity to host these races," he said. "We'll have a pretty nice crowd come out to really see what we're building here at Pepperdine."

Radnoti, who is entering his eighth season as head coach, is enthusiastic about what this team can accomplish.

"I haven't been this excited about our team in several years," he said. "We just have an incredible group of young people who fit the Pepperdine mission. And certainly with our team we really uphold that and believe in purpose, service, and leadership."

Pepperdine kicks off their season this Saturday (August 31) at the Mark Covert Classic, hosted by Cal State Fullerton, in Brea, Calif.

Written by Jeremy Mollet, Athletic Communications Intern

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