The chase for one more race. McClish reflects on career at UCSC

Mcclish during her school record run at the Bronco Invitational
Mcclish during her school record run at the Bronco Invitational sat down with senior Shannon McClish about her time at UCSC and how she and the team is gearing for this weekend's NCAA West Regional in Walla Walla, Washington.

The Women are currently ranked third in the region and received votes in the National Polls for the first time in program history. The Men are ranked second in the region and 34th in the National Polls. The top two teams from each region automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships and there are 16 at-large team selections and seven individual spots. Two years ago as a sophomore, McClish qualified as an individual via her ninth place finish at that year's West Regional. She studied abroad last year but returned to the Slug roster this year and has done unbelievable. In her three races thus far this season, she was the top Banana Slug in all three, and smashed the school 6K record with a time of 21:15.6 at the Santa Clara Bronco meet. Tell us about the year abroad. Where did you go?

SM-  The Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Half my courses were in their Earth Science department, half in Climate/Ocean Science.

Ocean Science in a landlocked country?

SM- (laughs) They actually have a really good Climate System department. I don't speak German and I really didn't have time to learn how, so I took all my classes in English.

How did you decide to pick Switzerland?

SM- I wanted to study abroad, and none of the programs interested me and my major is not super common in the UC study abroad program. So I went outside to find my own program. I had help from some professors here who recommended the school for me. I also wanted to go somewhere with a lot of natural beauty, so Switzerland was a huge draw in that regard.

I had to take time off running over there, because I was not a 'winter warrior' (laughs). It was so cold. I've lived in California my whole life so the winter was a bit different. I did other things; snowshoed, hiked a lot.

What was preseason training like at UCSC this summer?

SM- It was so amazing to be back with the team. That was probably the hardest thing of being abroad; not being able to run with my team.

I was excited, but I took a while to ease into it in the first part of preseason. Nothing crazy in terms of mileage, but I was happy to run again.

Last month you set the school 6K record in Sunnyvale at the Bronco Invitational. How was that race for you?

SM- I was really excited for that race because I ran in the Invitational race, (the more competitive of the two women's races that day). It was a really fast race with fast girls. I hadn't raced a lot this year and I wasn't happy with my first 6K because I made a lot of racing errors from being rusty. So, I wanted to go into the 6K at Bronco looking to run fast. We had a race plan to see how fast I could run for three miles and hang on and hopefully not die at the end.

I actually felt really good and didn't fall apart that much at the end. I finished and I was really happy. It was a great experience.

(Note-Shannon finished 36th out of 209 runners in 21:15.6)

I was all the way on the outside because there was this whole confusion about they weren't going to let us race the Invitational because it's usually for the big Division I schools. David (head coach David Klech) fought for us to get in.

We got in the last moment but I was all the way to one side by myself in my own box, so I didn't have to worry about crowds. It was so crazy on the start line with that many girls.

Talk about how you are looking forward to the Regionals. 

SM- I only raced Regionals as a sophomore because I was injured freshman year. That was a huge thing and I was super excited to qualify for nationals. This year, I just really want to run well and see what I can do. As a team we've really improved over the course of the year. No one was paying attention, I think we weren't ranked and now we are ranked third in the region, so I definitely want to run well and get a good result for the team and hopefully go on to nationals.

What was it like running with Natalie Marquardt in both High School and here?

SM- So Natalie is one of my best friends and I kind of made her do Cross Country in high school because Morro Bay didn't have enough girls for a varsity team.

She's super naturally athletic, and I knew even if she didn't summer train she could walk on and actually run well. In her first race she ended up out of nowhere being the third girl on our team, but then she broke her foot and couldn't run that year anymore. I'm so excited she's still running Cross Country; I kind of can't believe it.

I actually wasn't considering UCSC at all, but I knew Natalie was looking at it so we did a trip up with some other friends. I kind of tagged along, came up here and fell in love with the campus and how beautiful it was. That was kind of the key thing. Other schools I was looking at were in cities. I realized I wanted to be somewhere where I can run and be close to the ocean.