Posted by Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:
The NCAA West Regional Championships are next for Sterling Lockert as the former Petaluma high star continues a record-setting freshman season at Loyola Marymount University.

Lockert placed ninth at the West Coast Conference championships on Saturday — second for Loyola — to help the Lions to a second place finish heading into the west region meet in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 14.

Setting a Loyola freshman record for the 8 kilometer Crystal Springs course in Belmont, Lockert finished in 25:32, just 20 seconds behind the league’s top first-year runner, Lars Erik Malde of Portland. Lockert was a mere 2 seconds behind the Loyola school record for the course.

By finishing in the top 10, Lockert earned All-WCC First Team honors.

Loyola’s performance bumped up the Lions to 13th in the NCAA West Region rankings, after sitting 15th the previous two weeks.

“We had a very successful day, with our top five on both the men’s and women’s side in the top fifteen for the first time in school history it shows we still ran really well. We also walked away with another freshman of the year in Sheree Shea while Sterling Lockert was equally deserving,” Coach Scott Guerrero said in a release on the Loyola athletics website.

Lockert has been a top runner for Loyola, consistently improving his times in the handful of meets leading to the league and region finals. First-year college runners face the challenge of racing over eight kilometer courses compared with shorter high school distances, such as the five kilometer CIF State Cross Country Championships that Lockert ran for Petaluma.

A highlight was leading the pack of Lions at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., one of the nation’s top invitational races. Lockert finished 31st in a field of 194 and Loyola was sixth among 29 teams, including several nationally ranked squads.