XC Runners Ready for WCC Championships

MALIBU, Calif. – Pepperdine’s men’s and women’s cross country teams head north to Belmont, Calif., and the course at Crystal Springs for the West Coast Conference Championships on Saturday, Nov. 1.


The men’s 8K race begins at 9 a.m. and the women’s 6K at 9:45 a.m.


Pepperdine’s runners have spent months preparing for this race and head coach Robert Radnoti expects to see nothing but the best from his student-athletes.


“I anticipate the work we’ve put in throughout the year is going to pay off at this meet,” he said. “We designed and implemented a program to peak on this weekend and again in two weeks at the NCAA West Regionals, so I’m expecting that each athlete will run to the best of their ability. We’ll be successful if all that’s accomplished.”


Sophomore Seth Allison (Canyon, Texas/Canyon HS) and Pepperdine Law School student Cole Feldman (Carroll, Iowa/Kuemper Catholic HS) have been the Waves’ most consistent runners on the men’s side.


Allison was Pepperdine’s top competitor vs. Loyola Marymount in the season opening three-mile run and took second at four other meets. Feldman, who didn’t always get the chance to compete due to his studies, led the Waves at Hawai’i and again at the Pepperdine Invitational, finishing the 8K course 17th overall in 26:08.70. Feldman never finished lower than third while in competition with his teammates.


Team captain and sophomore Conrad Wozniak (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS) enters the WCC Championships with only two competitions under his belt this season, but had good showings at both. Wozniak missed some time due to illness, but served as the Waves’ No. 4 runner at Hawai’i and their No. 1 at Santa Clara, placing 28th overall in 25:29.


The lack of competition for Wozniak does not concern Radnoti in the slightest.


“When anyone looks at the top cross country schools, it’s not uncommon to see their top athletes running only two or three times before a conference championship or regional meet,” he said. “This has all happened to Conrad by accident of course, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s been guiding the team at training and I fully expect he’s ready to perform and lead us at WCCs.”


Pepperdine’s women’s team is led this postseason by senior Brieanna Carroll (Pusan, South Korea/Pusan American HS) and sophomore Chelsea Wishard (Lawai, Hawai’i/Kauai HS), who are the only returning Pepperdine runners from last year’s championship.


Carroll was the Waves’ No. 1 runner a year ago, finishing the course in 22:39, while Wishard was their No. 3 at 23.52. This year, however, has largely belonged to Wishard who’s finished as Pepperdine’s top runner at every meet.


Wishard was the overall winner against Loyola Marymount, placed third in front of a hometown crowd at Hawai’i, finished among the top 15 at the UC Irvine, Pepperdine and Santa Clara Invites, and was 25th at Stanford.


Behind these two veterans is a furious freshman tandem of Elizabeth Coe (Fountain Valley, Calif./Fountain Valley HS) and Lauren Lodge (Hopkinton, Mass./Hopkinton HS). These youngsters have continually finished among the Pepperdine top five at all six races with Coe never placing lower than fourth against her teammates, and Lodge never lower than third. Lodge recently tied Wishard at the Santa Clara Invitational with a time of 17:54, but the higher placing was given to Wishard.


“This could be Lizzy Coe’s breakout race for us,” Radnoti said. “She came in this year as our prized recruit after having won at the California state championships a few years ago, but she’s had to endure a few injuries and is just starting to race at a high level for competitions and workouts.”


Portland, whose men’s team is ranked No. 4 nationally, is expected to win the WCC title on both sides. If this expectation becomes a reality, the Pilots’ men’s squad will have earned its 30th consecutive conference crown, while the women’s team will have its 19th.


Although Radnoti recognizes Portland is a bit beyond the reach of his runners, he has no problem believing the Waves’ women’s team can keep up or surpass anyone else.


“Our entire women’s team is coming along real well,” he said. “They’re very excited and motivated to see how close we are to catching San Francisco, Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara. Those schools are within striking distance, and I think the motivation that exists will pull both our teams forward in a very challenging way.”


Pepperdine has trained at Crystal Springs several times previously this season, but it’s hard to know how they’ll handle the course when nothing but rain is forecasted throughout the entire weekend.


Radnoti said his team is excited about the opportunity to run in the rain, and teammates from rainy-weather locations have been consulted to get some of the SoCal runners in the right mindset. But don’t ask Radnoti what the secrets are to running in the rain. He’s not talking.


“I’ve heard a lot of parents and coaches from other teams have been reading my blog to see what’s going on the team, so I don’t want to give away any of our secrets at this time,” he said jokingly. “You’ll have to be part of the sisterhood or brotherhood to find out.”


Loyola Marymount will be doing an audio webcast of the WCC Championships beginning at 8:45 a.m. While the broadcast will obviously have an LMU bias, they do intend to provide coverage of all the teams in the event.  


Andy Thompson, a former athlete of Radnoti’s at Thousand Oaks High School, is the lead broadcaster.


Click on this link Saturday morning to access the broadcast.



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