FULLERTON, Calif. – Coming off second and third place finishes at the Fresno Invitational, the Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country squads continue the 2013 season this weekend on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Mustang Challenge hosted by The Master's College. The men's 8k and the women's 5k course will be held at Central Park in Santa Clarita, Calif. The women's invite race will start at 8:15 a.m. followed by the men's invite race at 9 a.m.
MUSTANG CHALLENGE: The race will take place at Central Park (27150 Bouquet Canyon Rd., Santa Clarita, Calif. 91350).
THE COURSE: Central Park is located in Santa Clarita, Calif., approximately seven miles from Magic Mountain. The course has been designed to resemble the historic Woodward Park course in Fresno, Calif., which is the course that the Titans competed on last weekend in the Fresno Invitational.
The course at Central Park consists of low cut grass and hard packed dirt paths, with a few short mulch and woodchip crossings. Both courses are approximately 85% dirt paths, 15% grass, 60% rolling terrain, and 40% flat. The women's 5k course has one sizable hill portion and the men's 8k has two sizable hill portions both being comparable to Woodward Park.
Flats are recommended but spikes are okay. There is no pavement although the dirt is hard packed making racing flats preferable.
RESULTS: Complete results will be posted on Fullertontitans.com at the end of the meet or check https://www.masters.edu/athletics/menssports/crosscountry/the-mustang-challenge.aspx.
THE FIELD: Competing alongside the Titans, will be squads from Cal State Bakersfield, Cal Lutheran, Cal State San Marcos, Concordia Irvine, Fresno Pacific, Loyola Marymount, UC Irvine, UCLA, Westmont College, and many more.
FRESNO INVITATIONAL: The Titans traveled to Fresno, Calif., for their second meet of the 2013 season last weekend, which was held at historic Woodward Park. Cal State Fullerton freshman Gilbert Solorza finished fifth overall to help the men's team to a third-place finish (63 points) while Emily Taylor and Katie Bathgate led the Titans' women's squad to a second-place finish (54 points). The Cal Poly men's and women's cross country teams swept the team races as the men finished with 20 points, while the women had 18.
Solorza was the first Titan runner across the line, completing the four-mile course with a time of 20:02.9. Sophomore Donald Bernard posted the second best time of 20:32.5 to finish 15th overall (13 points). Junior Brandon Perry (20:33.5) and Jayson Perez (20:35.4) were bunched closely in 16th and 17th, respectively. Other Titan finishers included junior Sean Graham who was 21st with a time of 20:47.0, and freshman Daniel Ramirez in 22nd with a time of 20:53.3.
On the women's side, sophomore Emily Taylor finished in eighth with a time of 18:44.9 and junior Katie Bathgate finished right behind in ninth place with a time of 18:48.5. Senior Lauren McIntyre (13th, 19:22.8), redshirt sophomore Ana Valdovinos (14th, 19:23.3), junior Celinda Manzo (15th, 19:24.5), and senior Sara Taylor (16th, 19:27.7), all finished in the top 20.
Top 3 Men Finishers at Fresno Invitational (Four-mile run)
Gilbert Solorza 20:02.9 5th
Donald Bernard 20:32.5 15th
Brandon Perry 20:33.5 17th
Top 3 Women Finishers at Fresno Invitational (5k)
Emily Taylor 18:44.9 8th
Katie Bathgate 18:48.5 9th
Lauren McIntyre 19:22.8 13th
*Overall Place Finished
FRESHMEN MAKING AN IMPACT: In two collegiate races, Gilbert Solorza has recorded the fastest times for the Titan men. At the Mark Covert Classic, Solorza, a native of Buena Park, Calif., ran a 25:53.5 8k, which was 18 seconds faster than the next Titan finisher and at the Fresno Invitational he ran a 20:02.9 four-mile.
SECOND PLACE FINISH FOR TITAN WOMEN: After coming in second place behind Cal Poly in the Fresno Invitational, the Titan women tied their best meet team finish since the Northridge Invitational in 2010.
TEAM FINISH FOR MEN: The Titan men recorded a third place finish at the Fresno Invitational, which was the team's best finish since October 15, 2011 when the team placed third at the Northridge Invitational.
LONGEST-TENURED COACH: As the 2013 season gets underway, cross country and track and field head coach John Elders enters his 26th 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 coaches cross country, women's indoor track and field, and men's and women's outdoor track and field and is one of three current Titan head coaches who have graduated from Cal State Fullerton joining men's soccer head coach Bob Ammann and women's soccer head coach Demian Brown.
A LOOK AT THE 2013 TITANS: The men return five of the seven runners who competed at the conference championships, while the women return three. However, last season's top female runner Emily Taylor missed the conference championships due to an injury. The Titan men return 15 players from last season and add 13 newcomers. On the women's side, nine total runners return and ten freshmen join the 2013 roster.
SEASON PREVIEW: Cal State Fullerton head coach John Elders sat down with the sports information staff to discuss the upcoming 2013 season. Filmed by department videographer Matt Brown, fans can view the entire video via Youtube.com/CSFAthletics.
UP NEXT: The Titans returns to the course next weekend when they make a trip to San Bernardino, Calif., for the CSUSB Invitational hosted by Cal State San Bernardino on Saturday, Sept. 28. The meet will take place at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Training Academy (18000 Institution Rd. San Bernardino, Calif., 92407).