FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country squads begin the 2015 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.
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: 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 150-meter section of concrete pathway. Spiked racing shoes or racing flats could be used on this course.
THE FIELD: Competing alongside the Titans will be squads Loyola Marymount, San Diego, San Diego State, College of the Canyons, Cerritos College, College of the Desert, Glendale Community College, La Verne, Mt. San Jacinto College, Orange Coast College, Pasadena City College, and Whittier College.
RESULTS: Results will be available on finishedresults.com Complete results will also be posted on Fullertontitans.com following the conclusion of the meet.
LAST YEAR'S MEET: In the fourth year under the newly-named meet, the Titan men finished third and the women finished fourth. Of the returners on the men's side, Jose Penaloza finished the 8k race with a time of 26:38.0. On the women's side, Emily Taylor returns for her senior season. She was the top Titan finisher in the 5k race in 2014 with a time of 18:50.5, which was good for 15th overall.
HISTORY OF COVERT CLASSIC: Cal State Fullerton's annual Labor Day weekend season-opening cross country meet is now in its 30th year of competition. The course has been changed numerous times over its existence, and alum 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 Titan 6k time and Heather Killeen (17:33, 1994) holds the best Titan 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 2015 TITANS: The men return five runners that competed at the conference championship as well as one additional student-athlete from 2014 and two returning redshirts while welcoming four newcomers to the 12-man roster. Jose Penaloza is the top returner from the Big West Championships as his time of 24:43.5 was good for 14th overall. Danny Ramirez, Jeff Little and David Ramirez also had top-50 finishes.
On the women's side, Fullerton has seven returners, including four athletes that competed at the Big West Championships. The Titans welcome eight newcomers to the squad. Fullerton's top returners include senior Emily Taylor, who finished 25th at the Championships with a time of 21:51.0 as well as fellow top-50 finishers Arianna Fuentes, Pamela Pelayo and Kim Melechinsky.
A LOOK BACK AT 2014: Both the Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams concluded the Big West Championships in fifth-place, respectively, as the women were paced by senior Tejera Dial, while Jose Penaloza led the men's contingent.
For the women, Fullerton's fifth-place score (149 points) was just two points shy of last season's 147 points that marked the best finish for the program since tying for fourth in 2008. That makes it back-to-back seasons that the Titans have concluded the conference meet in fifth.
For the men, the Titans' fifth-place finish matched the best for the program since 2006 when Fullerton recorded an identical finish in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Penaloza led the Titan squad, completing the 8k course in a time of 24:43.5. His 14th place tally was the best Titan finish at a conference meet since 2006.
LONGEST-TENURED COACH: As the 2014 season gets underway, cross country and track and field head coach John Elders enters his 28th 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 two weekends when they make a trip to Santa Clarita, Calif., for the Mustang Challenge at Central Park on Saturday, Sept. 19.