Cross Country Opens 2017 Season Saturday
Aug. 31, 2017
SAN DIEGO -
Following a strong 2016 campaign, the San Diego State cross country team kicks off the 2017 campaign on Saturday at Cal State Fullerton's Mark Covert Classic Invitational in Brea, Calif., for the fifth consecutive year.
The women's 5K invitational will start at 8:45 a.m. PT and follows the men's invitational 8K, which is set for 8 a.m. PT. The meet will once again be held at Carbon Canyon Park (4442 Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Brea, CA 92821).
Formerly the Fullerton Season Opener, it was renamed the Mark Covert Classic in 2012 in honor of the 1970 Division II champion and Cal State Fullerton alum. The course consists of multiple loops alternating between a 1K grass inner loop in the main section of the park and a dirt trail nature loop.
The Aztecs and host Titans will be joined by squads from Cal Lutheran, College of the Canyons, Concordia, Glendale, Loyola Marymount, Mt. SAC, Palomar, Pomona-Pitzer, San Diego, The Master’s University, Vanguard and Ventura. Additional track clubs that will be competing include Arc Racing Project, Cal Coast Track Club, In Stride, New Basin Blues, Run With Us, Snails Pace, So Cal Track Club, Janes Elite Running Team and Town and Country Running, as well as some individual and unattached athletes.
The San Diego State cross country team produced one of its stronger seasons in recent memory in 2016. The Aztecs won a pair of races: the Highlander Invitational on Oct. 15 and, for the second consecutive season, the 72nd Annual Aztec Invitational.
The Scarlet and Black’s postseason showed the team’s improvement from a year prior. SDSU ran its third best Mountain West Cross Country Championship 6K team time in 17 years with its ninth place finish. At the Conference meet, senior Christine Kent was the Aztecs’ top finisher, running the course in 21:40.60 for 34th place. The NCAA West Regional saw San Diego State post its second-fastest NCAA Regional 6K time and its sixth best 6,000-meter time in program history led, once again, by Kent.
In addition to the Aztecs’ two race wins in 2016, the team finished in the top five in two additional races. SDSU was led by Kent and classmate Elaine Ribiero, who finished 1-2 on the team in four of seven races last year. Each earned a second place finish (Kent – Highlander Invitational; Ribiero – Aztec Invitational) in one race during the season.
In her first year in the Scarlet and Black following a transfer from South Carolina, Kent was the Aztecs’ top runner in five of seven races this year. She made her mark in the program record books, becoming the program’s 6K record holder with her 20:47.8 time at the UC Riverside Invitational on Sept. 17, 2016. She also earned a place in the program’s 5K top 10 list with her 17:07.59 time at the Highlander Invitational on Oct. 15.
Ribeiro, a four-year Aztec, also made her mark on the program. SDSU’s top runner for her sophomore and junior seasons, she ran San Diego State’s sixth fastest 6K time at the Capital Cross Challenge on Oct. 1 (21:22.3).
Robert Lusitana Added to SDSU Staff
Most recently, Lusitana was an assistant cross country and track coach at Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley, Calif., beginning in 2013. The Ravens placed third or better each of Lusitana’s four seasons on the staff, advancing to the CIF state championship meet each of the last six years. In 2016, Canyon Crest placed second in the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship, led by race-winner Kira Loren. The Ravens placed ninth at the state cross country championships.
Lusitana’s other coaching stop was a two-year tenure on the cross country and track staff at Torrey Pines High School in La Jolla, Calif. He was an assistant coach for the 1985-86 school year before he was elevated to head coach for the 1986-87 season. Lusitana left coaching in 1988 to run his business, Redsand Inc., an action sports clothing company. Lusitana and his partners sold the company to Perry Ellis in 2003 and he then became a manager and partner of Amigo Custom Screen Prints in Carlsbad, Calif.
Lusitana also directed City Slickers Can’t Stay With Me, a film about National Track and Field Hall of Fame distance running coach Bob Larsen, a San Diego State graduate and former head coach at UCLA. Larsen led UCLA to two NCAA Outdoor Track and Field titles, winning national coach of the year honors four times, and helped found Team USA Running Group in 2001.
A San Diego native, Lusitana ran on UCLA’s cross country team in 1979, which was the first Bruin team to advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. He also competed in track for one year at San Diego State, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in accounting in 1982. He trained with the Jamul Toads Running Club from 1977-85.