FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country squads begin the 2014 season on Saturday as they host the Mark Covert Classic. The men's 8k course and the women's 5k course will be held at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif. The men's invite race will start at 8:30 a.m. followed by the women's invite at 9:15 a.m.
SEASON PREVIEW VIDEO: With the Titans off to the races in just two days, head men's and women's cross country coach John Elders sat down with FullertonTitans.com to preview the 2014 season.
MARK COVERT CLASSIC: The Mark Covert Classic, also formerly known as the Fullerton Season Opener for many years, will be featured at 4442 Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif. The 2012 race was the first year the meet was renamed in honor of 1970 Division II champion and Cal State Fullerton alum Mark Covert.
THE COURSE: The course consists of multiple loops alternating between a 1k grass inner loop in the main section of the park and a dirt trail nature loop. On the second nature loop of the men's course, there is a 100m section of concrete pathway. Spiked racing shoes or flats can be used on this course. The map course is attached in a PDF format above.
THE FIELD: Competing alongside the Titans will be squads from Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, San Diego, San Diego State, Cal State Bakersfield, USC and more.
RESULTS: Results will be available on Flashwest.com. Complete results will also be posted on Fullertontitans.com following the conclusion of the meet.
LAST YEAR'S MEET: In the third year under the newly-named meet, the Titan men saw their highest team-finish of the season in second place, while the women concluded the meet in fourth.
Among the returners, Brandon Perry had the highest finish for a Titan male finishing ninth with a time of 25:53.5 on the 8k course. Lauren McIntyre led the way for the lady Titans on the 5k course, finishing 12th overall with a time of 18:56.7. Loyola Marymount garnered both the men and women team titles last season. Grace Graham-Zamudio, LMU, and Weston Strum, unattached, had the best individual times of 17:45.5 and 24:46.7, respectively.
HISTORY OF COVERT CLASSIC: Cal State Fullerton's annual Labor Day weekend season-opening cross country meet is now in its 29th year of competition. The course has been changed numerous times over its existence, and alumni Mike Tansley holds the best time for a Titan male at the invitational with a time of 24:26 in 1993. Todd Williams, Tennessee '89, holds the overall best Mark Covert Classic time for a male of 24:09. The Fullerton men have won the Covert Classic four times, most recently in 2008. On the women's side the course has changed from a 6k to 5k race. Grace Gonzales (22:47.5, 2011) holds the best 6k time and Heather Killeen (17:33, 1994) holds the best 5k time. Jacky Kipwambok, Azusa Pacific '09, holds the 6k meet record with a time of 21:24.2 and Amy Skieresz, Arizona '96, holds the 5k meet high with a time of 16:57. The Titans have won the women's team title five times with the last crown in 2007.
A LOOK AT THE 2014 TITANS: The men return six of the 12 runners who competed at the conference championships, while the women return seven of eight student-athletes. Sarah Taylor, one of last season's top female runners, was the Titans' top finisher at the conference championships a year ago, and graduated following the conclusion of last season. The Titan men return 18 student-athletes from last season without any newcomers. On the women's side, another 18 total runners return while a pair of Titans join the 2014 roster, San Diego, Calif., native Kim Melechinsky, a junior who previously competed at San Diego Mesa College and freshman Brianna Shoffner from Huntington Beach, Calif.
A LOOK BACK AT 2013: Both the Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams recorded their best finishes in several years at the Big West Championships last season at Fairbanks Memorial Cross Country Course in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The fifth place finish by the women's team was the best showing since 2005 when the lady Titans placed fourth in Riverside, Calif. The men were not far behind as the sixth place finish last season was a team best since 2006, snapping a span of six consecutive seasons (2007-12) of concluding the conference championship in seventh place. Following the conference championships, Fullerton competed at the NCAA West Regionals at Haggin Oaks Golf Course in Sacramento, Calif. The men recorded a 24th place finish while the women finished in 29th place.
LONGEST-TENURED COACH: As the 2014 season gets underway, cross country and track and field head coach John Elders enters his 27th season at the helm of each program making him the longest tenured head coach in the history of Cal State Fullerton.
Elders was tied with former fencing head coach Heizaburo Okawa (1982-2006) and former men's soccer coach Al Mistri (1981-2005) for 25 years of service at Fullerton. The Orange County native is coach of cross country, women's indoor track and field, and men's and women's outdoor track and field.
UP NEXT: The Titans return to the course in three weekends when they make a trip to Santa Clarita, Calif., for the Mustang Challenge at Central Park on Saturday, Sept. 20.
For more information on the Mark Covert Classic contact head coach John Elders at (657) 278-3490 or firstname.lastname@example.org.