FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country squads have one last prep before the Big West Championship, hosting the Titan Invitational on the campus of Cal State Fullerton on Friday with the women's 5k beginning at 4:45 p.m., followed by the men's 8k at 5:15 p.m.
THE COURSE: The course on the campus of Cal State Fullerton starts and finishes at the Titan Track Complex. The course loops around the grass fields, and continues toward the concrete and asphalt pathways around the Sports Complex. The surface consists of approximately 30% grass and 70% concrete and asphalt.
THE FIELD: Competing alongside the Titans will be squads from Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, UC Santa Barbara and UCLA as well as additional non Division I teams.
LAST YEAR'S MEET: Cal State Fullerton's Chris Martinez and Lauren Carr paced the men's and women's cross country teams at the Titan Invitational on Oct 24, 2014. The Cal Poly Pomona men and UCLA women clinched the team titles, respectively.
NOTES FROM HIGHLANDER INVITATIONAL: Cal State Fullerton's Jose Penaloza and Sierra Ungerman posted top-10 finishes for the Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams at the Ag/Ops Course adjacent to the UC Riverside campus as part of the Highlander Invitational on Saturday. The Titan men finished third overall and second among Division I programs as Penaloza carded his third top-10 finish of the year while leading the Titans for the fourth time this season, completing the 6k in a time of 18:13.71 – nine seconds off his time from 2014. The Titan men had four runners finish in the top-20. For the second time this season, Ungerman paced the women's team with a sixth-place finish in a time of 17:58.28 on the 5k course – her fastest time of the season. The women finished fourth as just 30 points separated the second and fifth place teams.
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 2013's total of 147 points that marked the best finish for the program since tying for fourth in 2008. That made it back-to-back seasons (2013, 2014) 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 2015 season is 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: On Saturday, Oct. 31, the Titans will compete at the Big West Conference championship held at the UC Riverside Ag/Ops Course. The women's 6k will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the men's 8k at 9:15 a.m. Tickets are $5 per person and children ages 3 and under receive free admission.