November 10, 1998
LOS ANGELES - UCLA senior Mark Hauser will try to qualify as an individual and the Bruin women's team will be looking to rebound from its showing at the Pacific-10 Championships as the Bruins compete this Saturday (Nov. 14) at the NCAA Western Regional Cross Country Qualifying Meet in Fresno.
Held at Woodward Park, the women's 5,000m race starts at 10 a.m. and the men's 10,000m race begins at 11 a.m. Teams and individuals will be trying to qualify for the 1998 NCAA cross country championships on Nov. 23 in Lawrence, KS. In order to achieve a more equitable field for the NCAA Championships, the NCAA has increased the men's and women's fields to 255 runners. In the team category, there are 31 squads that will qualify, two from each of the nine regions and an additional 13 at-large teams. There are also 38 individual qualifiers, four from each region not on a qualifying team, along with two at- large individuals from around the nation.
On Oct. 31 at the Pacific-10 meet in Eugene, OR, both the Bruin men and women teams placed eighth. The men were led by Hauser, who placed fifth in the men's race. The Bruin women's team entered the meet ranked No. 23 in the nation and were disappointed with their eighth place finish.
At Fresno, the top men's teams will be No. 2 ranked Stanford, the 1998 Pac- 10 team champion and the 1997 NCAA winner, followed by No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 Arizona and No. 30 Portland. If the new NCAA formula was in place last year, Hauser, from St. Augustine HS in San Diego, would have qualified as an individual in 1997 (he placed eighth last season at the Western Regional).
Joining Hauser for the Bruin men will be-- sophomore Paul Muite, from North Hollywood HS in Los Angeles; junior Will Bernaldo, from Nordhoff HS in Ojai; junior Mason Moore, from Nordhoff HS in Ojai; freshman Bryan Green, from Littlerock HS in Palmdale; junior Matt Pitts, from Mountain View HS in Los Altos and junior Daniel Brecht, from Petaluma HS.
"Our region is the strongest in the country, both team-wise and individual," said Bruin head men's coach Bob Larsen, in his 20th season. "Mark Hauser is in great shape. He's having the best workouts of his career. He has to step up to 10,000m, but he ran that distance well last season at the regional meet and he's a lot stronger this year. He has an excellent chance of being an NCAA qualifier."
If Hauser does qualify, it will be the second straight season a Bruin runner has participated in the NCAA. In 1997, UCLA senior Mebrahtom Keflezighi became the first runner in Bruin history to win the NCAA title.
In the women's team division, the top squads in Fresno will be--No. 2 Stanford, the 1998 Pac-10 champion, No. 9 Washington, No. 11 Arizona, No. 14 Arizona State, No. 16 Oregon and No. 28 UCLA. Bruin head coach Eric Peterson feels that if the UCLA women perform well as a team and score high at the Western Regionals, they still might qualify for the NCAA.
"The experience we had at the Pac-10 was a blow to our team, but the athletes have been really positive and enthusiastic during our workouts and I know that we will run better," said Peterson, in his fifth season. "How much better is the question? Our goals are still the same as going into the Pac-10. We've beaten ASU twice and have come close to beating Oregon. We feel we're a better team now than in early October. If we finish among the top four teams at the Regional meet, we'll still have a realistic shot of qualifying as an at- large team to the NCAA."
Running for the UCLA women in Fresno will be--sophomore Julie Ott, from U. of San Diego HS; sophomore Kelly Cohn, from Stockdale HS in Bakersfield; freshman Elaine Canchola, from Nordoff HS in Ojai; junior Christina Bowen, from San Ramon HS in Danville; junior Kara Barnard, from Pacific Palisades HS; junior Melinda George, from Chatsworth HS and senior Nicole Luque, from Canyon HS in Anaheim. The Bruins will be without the services of sophomore Katie Nuanes, from Santa Ana HS in Santa Margarita, who is out with a hip injury.