FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton begins the 2018 cross country season on Saturday morning when the Titans host the Mark Covert Classic at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif. For the first time, there will be four races at this competition. Beginning at 8 a.m. is the men's non-division I, clubs and individuals 8,000-meter race. At 8:40 a.m., the men's division I 8K commences. On the women's side, the division I 5K is set to begin at 9:15 a.m. while the non-division I will start at 9:40 a.m.
Since the Big West Championships will be held at Carbon Canyon Regional Park on Oct. 27, the field of teams is the largest it has ever been, with nearly 700 entries. That list includes Arizona State, Cal Poly, CSUN, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, San Diego, San Diego State (Women's only), UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and others.
The Titans women's squad returns six of the seven runners they sent to the Big West Championships that earned a third-place finish overall, the best team finish since 1992. Included in the six returners is the duo of sophomore Wendi Leos and junior Samantha Huerta, who were the first or second Titans to cross the finish line in every race last season. Huerta took fourth at the Big West Championships while Leos finished in 12th.
"I told the team, don't lose perspective, this race is on September first," head coach John Elders said. "We use these meets, "regular season meets," to practice our race tactics and strategy and establish good race habits. This is just the first step of fine-tuning our team to get ready for the Big West Championships and NCAA meets after that."
Six student-athletes return to the men's squad that also took third place at the 2017 Big West Championships. The 2018 squad will be led by senior Samuel Pimentel, sophomore Jacob Smith and junior Jorge Sanchez. Pimentel was very consistent in 2017 as he was a top-three finisher for the Titans in each race. Smith finished out the year on a high note as he was the No. 2 Titan finisher at the conference championships and he led the team at the NCAA West Regional.
"I'm excited for our group, we've had good practices these last couple weeks so I have optimistic expectations for this weekend and for the season as a whole," Elders said. "We won't be 100% because of some aches and pains for a few of the student-athletes but we will still have two formidable teams out there."
The men's team won the 2017 Mark Covert Classic, taking first among DI teams with 49 points while the women's team finished in second place with 30 points, one point behind LMU in first.
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