Sept. 11, 2013
By: Andrew Rich
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State Cross Country team opens its 2013 season this Saturday, hosting the Fresno State Invitational at Woodward Park. The men's team will compete against teams from Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, San José State, UC Merced and William Jessup. They will run a four mile race starting at 9 a.m. The women's team will face a race lineup that includes the same group of schools from the men's side along with Cal State Bakersfield. They will run a 5k following the men at approximately 9:45.
This will be the first home meet for the program since hosting the Western Athletic Conference Championships in 2006. The `Dogs are also using this meet as a precursor for the 2014 season, when they host the Mountain West Championships at Woodward Park.
"It's fun to give the kids a chance to compete at home," head coach Sean McManus said. "A lot 0of the kids are from the local area so it gives their families a chance to come out and see them run without having to travel."
The men's team is looking to get out to a fast start this year behind the leadership of three experienced runners. Senior Danny Vartanian, recently voted as the team captain, took home either the first or second best time on the team in all the races he ran in 2012. Vartanian's best finish came at the season-opening Aggie Open in Davis when he finished the 6K race in a time of 18:23.9 to finish fifth overall. Senior Kevin Poythress and Junior Chriss Grimble have been right alongside Vartanian in training while preparing for the season. That trio's experience will be counted on in a big way on a team that has four freshman and two sophomores.
"We have three experienced guys coming back that we are expecting big things from," McManus said. "They are running together stride for stride in training so we expect those three guys to run together and put themselves in the mix, not only this weekend, but all season."
The Fresno State women's team is looking to get off to a strong start, just like they did last season. The `Dogs placed in the top three overall of the Aggie Open, Hornet Jamboree and the Sundodger Invitational to open the season last year. Lyndsie Etherton returns to the lineup and will look to regain the form she had to open the year before injuries cut her season short. The junior from Fresno competed in just two meets last season, but took home the top time for Fresno State in both races. She won the 5K Hornet Jamboree at Sacramento State with a time of 17:37.7 and was later named cross country Mountain West Athlete of the Week.
"She is excited to get back in to racing, but also a little nervous coming off of such a long layoff," McManus said. "It'll be fun to see her back out there and the team needs her to get to a high level to be successful."
Besides battling the competition from other teams, the `Dogs will also have to battle the Fresno heat. Temperatures are forecasted to reach triple-digits on Saturday. The temperature should be in the low 80's when the races take place.
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