The start of Long Beach State’s cross-country season has been successful and eventful, as top-ten finishes in both the Mark Covert Classic and the adidas/UCI Invitational plus the hiring of a new coach have made for a busy two weeks.
The action began on Sept. 1, when the 49ers traveled to Brea, Calif. to participate in the inaugural Mark Covert Classic. Both the women and men started their seasons with success, as each team earned runner-up finishes.
The women tallied 48 points and were led by Alisia Barajas, who placed second with a time of 17:56:1. Nina Moore’s time of 18:17.4 placed her third among collegiate athletes and fourth overall, while 2011 All-Big West performer Michelle Thompson finished 12th and Jessica Barnard and Taylor Goto placed 15th and 20th, respectively.
In the men’s 8k, the 49ers tallied 66 points and finished 42 points behind first-place Loyola Marymount. Andrew Garcia led the charge with a sixth-place time of 25:39.8 and was followed by Nick Kelley, who finished in 12th with a time of 26:07.1.
“The meet for us was a chance to feel out where we’re at,” track and field head coach Andy Sythe said. “It’s a chance to evaluate and move forward, regardless of what the results are that day. We learn from it and then we build off it.”
Next up for the 49ers was the adidas/UCI Invitational. Held on Sept. 8 at the ARC Sports Fields, the invitational featured a deeper field, and consequently, the women finished in sixth and the men finished eighth.
Moore was the top runner for LBSU, as she placed seventh overall in the 5K with a time of 17:43.7. In the men’s 8K, Jared Long led the 49ers with a season-best time of 25:57.2 and 15th-overall finish.
“It’s still early in the season, so we definitely keep the reigns on in the first couple of miles and try to stay conservative,” Long said. “It’s all about being consistent, coming out every day and getting a run in.”
Former Duke coach Patrick Wales-Dinan was added to the LBSU staff earlier this week to coach that consistency into the 49er runners. Wales-Dinan will take over the head coaching job from Sythe, who was called upon to lead the cross-country teams until a hire was made. Sythe has been coaching LBSU track and field for 23 years and was a temporary fix to the cross-country void.
Wales-Dinan was an assistant cross-country and track and field coach at Duke in 2011-12. Before his stint with the Blue Devils, Wales-Dinan was an assistant cross-country coach and distance coach for the women’s track and field program at Williams College.
A student athlete and three-time All-New England Division III athlete at Bates College, Wales-Dinan was a state champion in the 800 meters and a member of Bates’ 2004 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship qualifying team.
The LBSU cross country team is thrilled to have a new coach that brings so much experience and expertise to the program.
“He’ll be taking over the program, and we’ll be creating a direction and a path to follow using his guidance,” Sythe said. “We are very excited to have him.”
Wales-Dinan will make his LBSU debut on Sept. 29, when the 49ers travel to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational.