Among the many success stories in Spartan Athletics is the re-emergence of the San Jose State University cross country program. A two-time NCAA men’s national champion, SJSU cross country has a strong past with a bright future. Recently, the women’s cross country team has turned into a top team in the WAC, taking third-place in the conference championship the last two seasons. A top reason for the recent improvement has been Spartan senior, Erica Sahli.
In the first race of 2007, Sahli’s third-place finish led the Spartans to a third-place overall team finish at the USF Invitational in San Francisco. Erica followed the next race by leading San Jose State to a ninth-place finish at the Pepperdine Invitational, narrowly beating conference rival, Fresno State, by four points.
The two-time women’s co-captain has had 15 top-20 finishes; all coming within her last 21 meets. Sahli has been a top-three Spartan finisher in every meet in which she has competed. Dating back to her sophomore season, Erica has been the first or second Spartan finisher.
Building on her recent success, Sahli is looking forward to the upcoming WAC championship on October 27 in Logan, Utah. After finishing 26th, 13th, and ninth in her last three seasons, Sahli plans to keep improving.
“After finishing second-team All-WAC for two years, this is my last chance to place in the top-seven and earn first -team All-WAC. The bigger goal is definitely for the team to place high enough to compete at the NCAA Regional Championship. Qualifying would be a really big step for our young team after losing some top runners last season,” says the 6-foot-1 Spartan.
The pride of the program has been the accomplishments in the classroom. The women’s cross country team has earned 27 Academic All-WAC honors in the last three years. Sahli, a two-time Academic All-WAC honoree, feels the most pride when it comes to her and her teammates in the classroom. “I’m really proud of our team, we work hard on and off the field. Running got us here, but the education is what is going to carry us in the future.”
Sahli credits the academic success of her and her teammates to head coach Augie Argabright. “Our coach is the main reason for our academic achievements; he lets us prioritize. He understands about the demands of the classroom. So, he makes sure practice works around our classes instead of the other way around.”
“She has had a super career since she started as a freshman,” remarked Argabright. “She has never missed a practice; she’s a great team leader, outstanding student, and has a strong work ethic. When you’re giving scholarships, there is no better investment then someone like her.”
Although she has had a stellar career, the Orange County native is looking forward to life after San Jose State. “I would like to move back to Southern California to earn a Master’s degree, while my long-term goal would to become a cross country coach. I want to stay involved in the sport and use my degree in sport management.”
Largely, Sahli is most appreciative of her family. The Sahli family has traveled to 20 of 21 meets in which Erica has raced, missing only a 2005 meet in St. Louis, “They followed me to Notre Dame, twice; Oregon and all around California. Everywhere I go, they are there and I owe it all to them.”
Overall, Sahli looks back on her four years fondly, “I’m really happy with my time here. SJSU has been a great school for me. I love being a co-captain; it feels so rewarding to give back when the freshmen come to me for questions. Looking back, I owe so much of my success to coach Argabright and my family.”
Past 2007-08 Friday Features
August 24 - Jackie Zabek, Women's Soccer
August 31 - Ed Brand, Men's Soccer
September 7 - Keri Anglin, Volleyball
September 21 - Jennifer Senftleben, Volleyball
September 28 - Jacob French, Football
October 19 - Erica Sahli, Women's Cross Country