Kevin Liao of Fansided’s Spiked Up Psyched Up wrote a guest column looking at USC’s cross country team. For comprehensive coverage of the track world, head on over to the site.
After a summer of hard training, the USC women’s cross country team returns to campus this week with some big goals in mind. After back-to-back ninth place finishes at the Pac-10 meet, Coach Tom Walsh and the Women of Troy look to rise up the conference ranks with a mixture of strong young talent and veteran leadership.
Leading the charge is one of the top distance runners in school history, Zsofia Erdelyi. The native of Godollo, Hungary holds school records on the track at 5000 meters (16 minutes, 12.42 seconds), 10,000 meters (33:18.75), and the 3000 meter steeplechase (10:03.73). She was also a finalist at the NCAA championships over 10k on the track this last spring and in 2008 was USC’s first qualifier to the cross country national meet since 2003. After battling a foot injury and sickness throughout last fall, Erdelyi looks to bounce back strong for her senior season and make a return to the national championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Three other scorers from last year’s Pac-10s return in 2010. Senior Christine Cortez, originally a transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, was 60th a year ago but did not compete in the spring track season. Kathleen Moloney returns for her sophomore year after a strong 63rd place showing as a freshman and setting personal bests of 4:46.94 for 1500 meters and 17:29.33 for 5000 meters on the track. Senior Zara Lukens was the Trojans’ fifth runner in 2009 in 68th place.
Headlining the group of newcomers is redshirt sophomore transfer Shelby Buckley. Buckley left UCLA after her freshman year in 2008 when she was among the top four Bruins in each meet. She hails from Southern Californian high school powerhouse Corona del Mar where she was a Foot Locker Nationals finalist in 2006 and California state cross country champ in 2004. The top incoming freshman is Katie DeYoung from JSerra High in San Juan Capistrano. Her top performance was a seventh place finish at the Division 4 CIF state meet in 2009.
Due to a traditional focus on the sprints, USC has not typically been strong in the distance running events. But with the school’s ever growing academic reputation and a knack at pulling in strong foreign and domestic talent, the Trojans have a strong shot at improving on previous Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional finishes.