THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – With six harriers returning to the course for the 2013 Cal Lutheran men’s cross country campaign, plus the addition of four new runners the Kingsmen aim to use their experience to climb in the conference standings this fall.
“We should definitely be up from last year,” head coach Matt Lea shared. “We are returning most of our team from the 2012 campaign and they are stronger, better and looking to make that next jump to the top of the conference.”
Leading the pack will be junior Matthew Garvin who was just out of contention for All-SCIAC accolades as a sophomore last fall.
Seniors Shawn Jackson and Dominick Allen enter their final collegiate campaigns in 2013. Allen was a solid addition to the Kingsmen squad last season while Jackson returned from an injury in the spring of 2012 to score for CLU cross country last fall.
A pair of sophomores, David Avila and Nick Privitelli, gained valuable collegiate running experience a year ago and come back to compete for spots in the top five in 2013. Each contributed multiple-times as freshmen and will nicely transition into leadership roles as upperclassmen. Also suiting up for the Violet and Gold as a sophomore is Steven Fuller, who took a year hiatus from running, but returns to the course after having run for Cal Lutheran in 2011.
Joining the Kingsmen squad this season are a pair of sophomores in Garrett Baker (Ventura, Calif.) and Ryan Perez (Koloa, Haw.) and the freshmen duo of Chris Dunn (Newbury Park, Calif.) and Daniel Tustin (Moorpark, Calif.).
Baker will make an immediate impact as transfer from Ventura College where he was a 2011 All-Conference cross country runner and will bring much needed college experience to the course in the men’s races this season. Perez is no stranger to distance running, though he will be lacing up his shoes for intercollegiate action for the first time.
Lea feels the familiarity to competition at this level that Baker brings will help to solidify the CLU top five, making the Kingsmen that much stronger when they toe the line each race.
“I believe that experience alone is going to be a huge factor,” Lea shared. “We got better and better each and every week last year and transitioned into track the season that we had there was incredible.”
The hope is that that success will carry over from the track to the course for what Lea anticipates being a very exciting year for the Kingsmen.
“I am just excited for the season to be here,” Lea went on, “I know that these athletes have been working extremely hard over the past few months and are ready to get going on the course now.”
All that hard work will be showcased for the first time on Sept. 7 at the ASICS/UCI Invitational, which is set to start at 8:00 a.m. at ARC field.