FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton begins the 2017 cross country season on Saturday morning when the Titans host the Mark Covert Classic at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif. The men will run an 8,000-meter race that commences at 8 a.m. PT while the women's 5K is set to start at 8:45 a.m. Those times are 30 minutes earlier than what was originally set due to high temperatures in the forecast.
The Titans return eight student-athletes from the men's squad that took third place at the 2016 Big West Championships. That third-place finish was the team's best finish at the league championships since 1993. The women's team welcomes back six student-athletes from the 2016 squad that took fourth place at the league championships.
Both teams were ranked No. 15 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) preseason regional rankings. Both teams were 15th in the west region and ranked third among Big West Conference members. It is the first time in program history that both teams earned preseason regional rankings.
"We're excited to get started and see where our teams are at," head coach John Elders said. "The expectation here is to go out and get some experience racing and find a routine in terms of warming up and preparation. The early meets are for trying to find our groove."
Seniors Joe Casco and Jason Hillquist will look to lead the men's squad this year. At the 2016 Mark Covert Classic, Hillquist took second in the 8K with a time of 25:14.6 while Joe Casco finished in ninth place at 25:49.9. The Titans finished in second place with a score of 28 and were just two points behind Loyola Marymount in the standings.
"I have high expectations for our teams this weekend, I think we can challenge for the title in both the men's and women's races," Elders said. "I'm excited to see what we can do."
The women's squad won the 2016 Mark Covert Classic with a score of 31 points, besting San Diego State by 16 points in second place. Sophomore Sam Huerta took third place overall and led the Titans with a 5K time of 18:12.9. Junior Brianna Jacklin finished right behind her in fourth place at 18:18.9.
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