The LMU Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team opens the 2016 season Saturday in Brea, Calif., racing in the 2017 Mark Covert Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton. Racing begins at 8:00 a.m. with the men's 8K, followed by the women's 5K at 8:45 a.m. at Carbon Canyon Regional Park.
The Lion men enter this meet as two-time reigning team champions. At last year’s Classic, they secured ten out of the top 15 times. The 2016 men's squad has experience on its side with only three freshman and leaders in Koby Pederson and Jack Polerecky back for their Junior seasons. With experienced runners come high expectations for Saturday, and the season as a whole.
“I really look forward to this race every year as it gives us an opportunity to knock some of the rust off and really get an idea of where we are as a team, says head coach Scott Guerrero. “Everyone has been training for months now so we’re anxious to get out there and finally test our fitness.
The 2017 Lion women, meanwhile, are underclassmen heavy with 10 combined freshmen and sophomores on a squad of 19. The upperclassmen will still have a heavy presence on the squad led by Senior Danielle Shanahan, who won the Mark Covert Classic in 2016.
The women, who placed third in the team standings at last year's Mark Covert Classic, return six of their top seven finishers from the 2016 WCC Championship. That returning core includes senior Marisa Carino and sophomore Hannah Wohlenberg
“We have a lot of new faces this year added to the mix and for many of our kids this will be their first-ever collegiate race so it’s always fun to see how people will perform in a competitive situation”, Guerrero states. “I think we have a good team top to bottom on both sides this year so this weekend will be an opportunity to show it.”
In the past five years, the Lions have seen a lot of success at the opening race. Last year’s team victory for the men and Shanahan’s first place finish are only a glimpse into what the Lions have done.
On the women’s side, they have won the team title three of the last five years. Led by Grace Graham-Zamudio and Shanahan in both 2013 and 2014, they placed first and second leading to the team title at both meets. The team won again in 2012, with Sheree Shea finishing first overall her senior year.
The men’s side has seen back-to-back team titles over the last two years, 2015 and 2016. Weston Strum and Drew Dalton were the leaders in 2012 and 2013, giving the team back-to-back team titles and individually finishing first and second in 2013.
Most recently LMU swept the individual titles in 2015 when then sophomore Polerecky and Kayla de Bondt both took home the fastest times.
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