High hopes for 2020 cross country team


Staff Writers

The 2020 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) cross country season may seem far away right now, but the men and women’s teams have already begun their preparation for the upcoming fall season.

Even with the season’s future being uncertain due to COVID-19, the Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) cross country team hopes to not let the pandemic get in the way of its legacy.

The women’s cross country team will bring back five out of its seven members from the 2019 squad, a team that finished third in the CCAA Championship, sixth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) West Regional Championship and secured a spot in the NCAA Championships.

The women’s cross country team kicked off its 2019 season at the Cougar Challenge in San Marcos. The team placed fourth out of seven other teams. (Courtesy of CSUSM Athletics)

The men’s team has big aspirations as well. They finished fourth in the CCAA and second at the NCAA West Regional Championship, earning them a trip to the NCAA Championships. The men’s team graduated three seniors.

Luz Garcia, a third-year psychology student, has made it a priority to take care of business and keep her team’s goals in sight as motivation.

“Preparing for the upcoming season has been a challenge having to train alone. It has been important to stay positive despite the circumstances and keep the legs rolling,” Garcia said.

Garcia said she is excited about returning with all but two of her teammates.

Vincent Sarino, a second-year kinesiology student, is making sure he does his part to prepare for the big goals his team plans to achieve in the upcoming season.

“My mindset is that if I can keep my routine when the motivation is low, then the transition into the busy season will be seamless,” Sarino said. “I’m always asking myself, ‘What can I do to be better than I was yesterday?’ and look at it as having a chance to refine my skills and toolset.”

Vincent Sarino placed 62nd in the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Championships to help lead his team to 16th place out of 34. (Courtesy of CSUSM Athletics)

With high hopes going into the new season, head coach Chris Bradford said he is taking advantage of the amount of time he has to recruit since under normal circumstances, he would still be in the middle of coaching the track and field season. He referred to this as a possible “silver lining” for the cross country team.

He has found recruiting this year to be a unique challenge but also found positive ways to recruit such as through Zoom meetings and virtual tours of the CPP campus.

“(Recruiting) is different, but the underlying things are still the same,” Bradford said. “We’re still identifying great student-athletes and talking to them about the great university we have, the great program and just going through that process.”

Besides recruiting, Bradford has tried to plan and prepare as much as possible even with the high level of uncertainty for what is to come next season.

He emphasized that there is “a lot still up in the air,” but he is still looking into the competitions the teams will attend.

All the preparations, such as training programs in the works, can change any day due to the coronavirus, but Bradford and his teams are keeping a bright outlook.

Practices are currently scheduled to start about a week to 10 days before the school year starts.

Bradford hopes the momentum for this strong team continues and expects nothing but great things for the Broncos’ upcoming 2020 season.

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