For the second year in a row, the Long Beach State Cross Country team opened its season at the Matt Covert Classic, hosted by CSUF, where the men and women teams finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
The runners competed at Carbon Canyon Regional Park trail in Brea and were led by Long Beach State’s senior Alyssa Allen and sophomore Michael Simpson. The men’s 8k featured 19 different programs and over 200 runners, while the women’s 5k consisted of 21 programs and over 200 runners as well.
“Allen really stuck to the game plan and had what we feel is a breakthrough race for her,” head coach Shawn Winget said.
For the men, Simpson placed 17th overall at 25:33, followed by senior Ricky Cardenas at 25:47.
Despite the Beach not placing first, the team still had individual performances that are encouraging for the remainder of the season.
“On the guys side, impson didn’t have a very good cross country season last year, but he was our top guy [today] and came in 15th,” Winget said. “So that’s obviously a huge bonus, because he was on our team last year and our tenth guy, and today he was number one.”
He also noted Cardenas, who came in second behind Simpson for the Beach, who was the team’s fifth or sixth runner last season and has shown progression in his running.
The Beach showed impressive individual performances at Carbon Canyon Regional Park despite the challenging trail.
“This is a really tough course,” Winget said. “The front loop is really thick slow grass and is kind of uneven with awkward footing. Then you go from that out into this trail … with dust being kicked up.”
With only two weeks of practice as a team under its belt, many of the runners struggled on the course.
“I think they maybe got a little too excited,” Winget said. “Our plan was to let the first mile come to us and start building from there, but they got a little bit excited and after the mile … and we just ran out of gas.”
The season consists of only three more invitationals before the Big West Conference event Nov. 2, and then the NCAA regionals Nov. 15.
According to Winget, the emphasis for the team will be to simply build from race to race.
“Obviously we want to peak at conference and regionals, but you have to be able to run well at these other ones, Winget said. “So we just try and take something from each race and take it to the next one.”
The next meet will be Sept. 14 at the UC Riverside Invitational at the UCR Agricultural Operations Cross Country Course.
This article previously reported inaccurate information, it was corrected Sept. 5 at 11:02 a.m.