2014 Cross Country Season Recap

2014 Cross Country Season Recap

FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams capped off its 2014 season with improved team finishes at the NCAA West Regionals, tallying a 22nd and 26th place finish, respectively, in addition to posting solid performances at the Big West Championships.

NCAA WEST REGIONALS: The men's squad was led by sophomore Jose Penaloza, who completed the 10k course in a time of 31:07.8 to finish in 81st place. Penaloza's mark was the fourth fastest NCAA West Regional 10k time in program history, en route to his second consecutive first place finish among CSF runners following the Big West Championships in Riverside, Calif. Fullerton's 22nd place finish in the team standings was an improvement by two slots from the 2013 competition and the best team finish since 2011. Other notable performances include Samuel Garcia, who inked the eighth fastest mark in the Fullerton record books, completing the race in 31:22.00.

On the women's side, for the second consecutive season, the Titans were led by junior Emily Taylor as she finished the race with the third fastest 6k mark in program history (21:50.7), which was good for 84th. It was the fifth occasion this year that Taylor was Fullerton's top finisher. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native also was 10th among Big West participants, advancing 15 slots from her 25th place overall mark at the conference meet. Another standout performance was junior Ana Valdovinos, who chalked up the 14th fastest 6k time in the CSF record books in 22:21.00. Fullerton improved three slots from a season ago, finishing in 26th place with a total of 732 points while recording the highest team finish since a 24th place tally at the 2010 event in Springfield, Ore. 

BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIPS: Both the Cal State Fullerton men's and women's cross country teams used its second appearance of the season on the Ag/Ops Course to record a solid effort at the Big West Championships, as the race was held in Riverside, Calif. The championships were hosted in Riverside for the sixth time in the last eight seasons, and it suited the Titans well as both the men and women concluded the championship in fifth-place, respectively, 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 lady Titans have concluded the conference meet in fifth.

Dial was the top Titan to finish the 6k course as her time of 21:41.3 was good for 18th. The Bakersfield, Calif., native posted the ninth fastest time in program history for a 6k event at the Big West Championships. Emily Taylor crossed the finish line in 25th place with the 14th quickest mark in the Fullerton record books (21:51.0). The top seven lady Titans scored which included Ana Valdovinos (30st; 21:58.0), senior Tijerra Lynch (38th; 22:29.5), Arianna Fuentes (46th; 22:56.8), sophomore Pamela Pelayo (48th; 23:00.6), and junior transfer Kim Melechinsky (50th; 23:08.3). Katie Bathgate completed the race in a time of 23:20.4, placing 53rd in the championships, followed by senior Celinda Mando, who finished in 57th with a time of 23:26.9.

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 when Jordan Horn (26:29.0) posted a 10th place mark while Penaloza also ran the fastest time since 2004 when Horn (24:37) was Fullerton's top runner once again. Freshman Samuel Garcia and sophomore Daniel Ramirez were the next Titans to score as Garcia finished in 20th (24:48.0) and Ramirez 29th (25:11.8).

Junior Jeff Little was the next Titan to cross the finish line in a time of 25:24.2, good for 37th. Sophomore David Ramirez completed the race in a time of 25:24.2, finishing in 38th, followed by sophomore Dalton Hall, who crossed the finish line in 47th (25:45.8). The final Titan to score for Fullerton was senior Brandon Cook, who completed the race in a time of 25:50.7 (50th). Senior Anthony Castellon rounded out the Titans in 56th with a time of 26:16.4.

 Top 3 Men's Finishers at Big West Championships (8k)



Overall Finish

Jose Penaloza



Samuel Garcia



Daniel Ramirez




Top 3 Women's Finishers at Big West Championships (6k)



Overall Finish

Tejera Dial



Emily Taylor



Ana Valdovinos



Cal State Fullerton's Sam Garcia became the first Titan in program history to garner the cross country Big West Men's Freshman of the Year honor, it was announced by the league office on Nov. 6.

Garcia posted an impressive outing at the Big West Championships in Riverside, Calif., as the only rookie to crack the top-20 individual standings, tallying a 20th place finish with an 8k time of 24:48.0 at the Ag/Ops Course.

The El Monte, Calif., native has progressively improved his 8K time over the season, shaving over two minutes from his first race at the Mustang Challenge (26:49.2) to the conference meet (24:48.0). Garcia also holds the second fastest time for a Titan at the only 6k event of the season, carding an 11th place overall finish at the Highlander Invitational in 18:20.3. Garcia crossed the line second among CSF runners at the Highlander Invitational, Big West Championships and NCAA West Regionals.

BRING THE BROOMS OUT, TWICE!: Following competition at the historic Rim Rock Farm Classic (Oct. 4) in Lawrence, Kan., Emily Taylor and Danny Ramirez swept the Big West Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors for the second time this season. The Fullerton duo previously swept the conference honors back on Sept. 23 following competition at the Mustang Challenge on Sept. 20. Ramirez is the first male CSF runner to be honored as the conference's athlete of the week twice in one season, while Taylor's feat was the first since Maria Blazquez was recognized on a pair of occasions during the 2005 Titan campaign.

HONORING THE 1971 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE: Mirin Fader of the Orange County Register recently interviewed several members of Cal State Fullerton's 1971 cross country championship squad along with head cross country and track and field coach John Elders. Fader examined first hand perspectives on the preparation, training, and some of the obstacles Fullerton faced en route to its championship performance 43 years ago. Read the story from the OC Register here.

HIGHEST OF HIGHS: The men's squad raced to a second-place finish on three occasions over the season which includes the Mustang Challenge (Sept. 20) in Santa Clarita, Calif., the CSUSB Coyote Classic (Sept. 27) in San Bernardino, Calif., and finally at the Highlander Invitational (Oct. 18) in Riverside, Calif. On the women's side, the lady Titans posted a season-best third-place finish at the Highlander Invitational.

WHERE WE STACKED UP: Excluding the NCAA West Regionals, the Titan men and women produced 48 top-30 overall finishes in the 2014 campaign.

Fullerton Men's and Women's Overall Top-30 Finishes




Mark Covert Classic (Aug. 30)
Brea, Calif.



Mustang Challenge (Sept. 20) 
Santa Clarita, Calif.



CSUSB Coyote Classic (Sept. 27)
San Bernardino, Calif.



Rim Rock Farm Classic (Oct. 4)
Lawrence, Kan.



Highlander Invitational (Oct. 18)
Riverside, Calif.



Titan Invitational (Oct. 24)
Fullerton, Calif.



Big West Championships (Nov. 1)
Riverside, Calif.



On the men's side, Jose Penaloza recorded the lowest 8k mark of 24:43.5 at the Big West Championships. In the only 6k event of the season, it was  Daniel Ramirez who crossed the line in 18:05.5 at the Highlander. At the NCAA West Regionals, Penaloza once again led the Titan contingent, collecting a 10k finish in 31:07.8. 

The women's contingent was pioneered by Emily Taylor's 17:47.3 showing at the Highlander Invitatational as the fastest 5k time of the season, while Tejera Dial (21:41.3) chalked up the lowest 6k tally at the Big West Championships.

TAYLOR AT THE TOP: In five out of the six events she participated in, Emily Taylor crossed the line as the top Fullerton runner on the women's side. The native of Huntington Beach, Calif., shattered her previous 5k time after boasting a season-best time of 17:47.3 at the Highlander Invitational. Taylor is the only lady Titan to post four top-15 overall finishes.

COOKING ON LOW: In his senior campaign as a Titan, Brandon Cook improved on his 8k time in every meet following the opening season competition at the Fullerton-hosted Mark Covert Classic on Aug. 30. Cook currently holds a season-low mark of 25:50.7 that was recorded at the Big West Championships.

SENIORS SETTING THE EXAMPLE: Individually, Cal State Fullerton seniors Katie Bathgate, Tejera Dial, Tijerra Lynch and Celinda Manzo accomplished a common goal. The upperclassmen posted improved 5k times in every meet since opening the season and have combined for six top-30 overall finishes in the 2014 campaign. Among the quartet, Dial posted both the fastest 5k mark (18.28), while tallying the most improved time, shaving off 1:40 from her first tally (20.08) at the Mark Covert Classic.

ANYONE HAVE A PEN?: Jose Penaloza steadily inked a CSF top-three finish in all six events he's participated in, five of which were in the overall top-20. The Garden Grove, Calif., native posted his best finish of the season at the Big West Championships, crossing the line at the 8k course in 24:43.5, good for 14th place overall and first among CSF runners.

CAPTAIN CONSISTENCY: Women's team captain Ana Valdovinos was the model of consistency, producing a top-three Fullerton finish in all six events she's entered. The native of Coachella, Calif., is one of only two female runners to post four overall top-25 finishes.  

THE RAMIREZ CONNECTION: For the only occasion this season, sophomores Danny and David Ramirez finished 1-2 among Fullerton participants at the Rim Rock Classic. The brothers and natives of Buena Park, Calif., recorded a combined six overall top-20 finishes this season.

MAKING THEIR DEBUT: Five Titan student-athletes made their respective debuts at the Mark Covert Classic on Aug. 30. A pair of redshirt freshman in Tanner Love (15th place; 26:45.3) and Robert Miyoshi (33rd place; 27:20.6) took to the men's 8k course. On the women's side, San Diego Mesa College junior transfer Kim Melechinsky (49th place; 20:09.9), freshman Brianna Shoffner (67th place; 20:38.7) and redshirt freshman Lauren Carr (78th place; 21:14.4) also wore the orange and navy for the first time at a cross country event. Redshirt freshman Samuel Garcia (34th place; 26:49.3) made his debut at the Mustang Challenge on Sept. 20.

Cross country and track and field head coach John Elders logged his 27th season at the helm of each program making him the longest tenured head coach in the history of Cal State Fullerton.

The Orange County native 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.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge: Head men's and women's cross country and track and field coach John Elders accompanied a host of Cal State Fullerton student-athletes at Titan Stadium to take part in the ALS ice bucket challenge to raise awareness of the neurodegenerative disease. 




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Schedule Click For Full Schedule

Total Slides 1 : Active Index 1 : Last Slide Divs 5

Sat Aug 31
8:30 a.m. PT
Mark Covert Classic
Brea, Calif. | Carbon Canyon Regional Park
Fri Sep 13
6 p.m. PT
vs. USD Invite
@ San Diego, Calif. | Tecolote Shores
Sat Sep 28
7 a.m. PT
vs. Mustang Challenge
@ Santa Clarita, Calif. | Central Park
Fri Oct 04
1 p.m. PT
vs. Joe Piane Invitational
@ Notre Dame, Ind. | Burke Golf Course
Sat Oct 19
8 a.m. PT
vs. UCR Highlander Invitational
@ Riverside, Calif. | UCR Ag-Ops Course
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