XC gains depth this year

With the 2013 season now underway, the California Lutheran University cross-country team has already made a name for themselves in the running world.  Coming off an impressive finish at the ASICS/UCI Invitational on Sept. 7, both the Kingsmen and Regals have shaved off several minutes of their overall running times.  With a break of a couple weeks in between their first two races, Head Coach Matt Lea is feeling confident in his squad and the upcoming season.

“I know that myself and my assistant coach feel really good about this years team.  We have had some amazing workouts this pre-season heading into our first few meets,” Lea said in an email interview. “I believe the team is definitely very confident going into the year and I know that myself and the rest of the coaching staff are extremely excited and confident in them as well.”

Along with new mentalities and expectations for the season, comes new additions to the team.  With several new junior college transfers and freshmen, coach Lea is optimistic that they will make an immediate impact. One new runner, sophomore Ryan Perez, credits the team morale as being one of the main reasons for joining cross-country this year.

“With the team chemistry we have, we are able to work with teammates not only on the course to help push each other, but off the course as well since we are really good friends,” Perez said. “We have all discussed our individual goals for the season, along with the team’s goal. We’re looking to improve and beat out some of the other schools who usually finish higher up in the top four.”

To finish where the Kingsmen and Regals are aiming for, they must first stay healthy throughout the full duration of the season.  Lea believes this to be the main goal of the team.  He even entertains the thought that if the team remains healthy, then they will do something special at the SCIAC championships and even the NCAA championships.

Senior team captain Natalie Bullock accepts that if both teams are to make it to SCIAC championships and even nationals, they will have to make realistic goals to get there.

“We’re hoping to secure that second spot for nationals, but to get there, we are all making individual stepping stone goals,” Bullock said. “I tell my teammates to keep making these realistic goals one race at a time, such as improving their times even just 20 seconds.  By doing this, we are taking the necessary steps to reach our ultimate goal as a team.”

Depth is essential in making a run at nationals. Bullock credits the new additions as a much-needed support system to the team’s depth. They are all able to help impact each other on a regular basis.

“The more people we have the better depth we have. If someone has a bad day, there’s other runners to help back them up. We didn’t have this depth last year, so that’s just another plus for us going into the season,” Bullock said.

With all the hard work during the offseason, coupled with their new additions, this year’s cross-country team is ready to make some noise not only in SCIAC, but the whole NCAA.

Their next meet will be on Oct. 5 at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational at 7:45 a.m. They will open SCIAC play two weeks from then in La Mirada, Calif. at the SCIAC Multi Duals.


Evan Engal
Staff Writer
Published Sept. 25, 2013