SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento State men's and women's cross country teams begin their 2014 season on Saturday, Aug. 30, when they face UC Davis at the Aggie Open. The meet will take place on the Putah Creek Reserve Course and begins at 9 a.m. with the women's 4K. The men's 6K will start at 9:30 a.m.
"It will be good to get out there and race against somebody in a different color jersey," Sacramento State coach Joe Eby said. "We had a decent camp with some hard efforts and I look forward to see what we can do."
The Hornet women returns six of its top seven finishers from last season's unit which finished fourth at the Big Sky Championships. The team features a veteran group which includes four seniors and five juniors. Lauren Mugnaini and Veronica Stinnett both enter their fifth year with the team. Last season, Mugnaini had four top 10 finishes while Stinnett has competed in 17 meets during her career.
The other seniors are comprised of Teresa Mallory and Jacque Taylor. Mallory was the only member of the team to compete in all eight races in 2013 while Taylor is the healthiest she's been in years according to Eby.
Chloe Berlioux, Amanda Garcia, Emily Johnston and Stephanie Rasmussen highlight the returning juniors. Those four will be paired with Lizette Gonzalez who is a transfer from Glendale JC. Berlioux placed among the top three on the team in each of her seven meets and had the second fastest time in the final three meets of the year. Garcia missed all of last season but, according to Eby, has been among the fastest on the team during training camp.
"I believe that we will be strong with our top four to five runners in a pack near the front," Eby said. "As the year progresses I hope that some of the newcomers will also be able to work their way into that group."
The Sacramento State men's team find itself in the opposite position of the women. The Hornets return just one member of last year's team which ran at the Big Sky meet. Despite the loss of key contributors, Eby has high expectations.
"I think we will be better as a team than last year," he explained. "We lost some really good runners but from top to bottom we should be faster."
Jacob Huston is slated to take over as the team's No. 1 runner. While at American River College, Huston was a part of two state championship teams. Drew Azevedo is the only returner to the group after competing in seven meets in 2013.
Seniors Mac Harvey and Zach Kaylor both redshirted last season but will return to action in 2014. Expected to help the team are a group of four redshirt freshmen comprised of Blake Maule, Sam Scheuer, Ryan Salcido and Tyler Sicker.
"With the depth on this team its wide open who will be among the leaders each week," Eby said.
After the initial meet this weekend, the team will next compete on Sept. 20 at the Mustang Challenge in Santa Clarita, Calif. Sacramento State will not have a home meet during the 2014 season but will compete in Northern California at Stanford (Sept. 27), Santa Clara (Oct. 18), UC Davis (Nov. 8) and at the NCAA West Regional (Nov. 22 at Stanford).