Cal State LA cross country assistant coach, Andres de la Cruz, hopes to see a top-three finish in conference for both the mens’ and womens’ teams.
“I think that’d be a huge improvement from last year. [We’d like to] definitely qualify for the regional meet and hopefully get pretty close to the top.”
Coach de la Cruz isn’t wrong. This would be a large step forward for the program.
Last season, the Cal State LA men finished tenth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championships and the women finished twelfth. Moreover, they have to compete with conference power, Chico State. The Chico State men have won the last 17 CCAA championships and their women have won the last 11 CCAA championships.
This is why de la Cruz is looking to the upcoming Biola Invitational as an important early test to gauge their upcoming season.
“We’re going to see a lot of our conference foes there. I think Cal Poly Pomona, UC San Diego, [and] San Marcos will all be there … it’s pretty much [going] to show them that we are not just going to sit back. We are going to actually compete this time and give them a run for their money.”
The runners for Cal State LA are looking forward to doing just that.
“I’m excited to improve my times and run against big powerhouse schools … it’s all a new experience for me,” said transfer student and emerging leader, Rebecca Ruiz, who will be running at a 4-year university for the first time this upcoming season.
Carlos de la Torre, another one of the emerging leaders on the team, is not discouraged by the prospect of difficult competition. “It doesn’t intimidate me. I feel like we all start somewhere … It’s just a matter of time and hard work that we have to put in.”
Assistant coach, de la Cruz, has been really impressed with the leadership of Ruiz and de la Torre, along with fellow runners Rebecca Morales and Moises Marquez.
“I think they’re here to lead the team, they’ve set a great example so far [for] the newcomers especially the freshmen. This is going to help shape the future of our team,” said de la Cruz
Cross country will open up competition at the Biola Invitational in La Mirada on September 7 with its location and time to be announced later.