By, Megan Acuna | Staff Writer |
The CSUSB cross country team walks away from the 2012 season without any regrets.
The team earned its second best finish in school history, but they’re losing senior runner Katherine Gomez, an extremely valuable part of the team.
“She’s been with the team for two years and it will be difficult to replace her leadership and talent. But it’s exciting to see her move on with her career and education,” says Coach Tom Burleson, who just ended his 22nd season as head coach of cross country.
The team ended their season placing 11th at Kahuku Golf Course at the NCAA regional event hosted by Hawaii Pacific University.
The Coyotes participated in seven events over the course of the season. Their best finish was the NCAA West Regional event on Nov. 3 where they ended up with 381 points finishing 11th out of 25 teams.
Their second best team finish was at the UC San Diego Triton Invite where they finished with 258 points and placed 10th out of 22 teams.
“I feel outstanding about the team’s performance this season. It was our second best finish in school history, said Burleson.
“We beat 18 great teams and we can hold our heads high. We performed higher than expected.”
On Sept. 8 at the UC Irvine Invite, junior Deserae Perez had an outstanding performance as she was the lead runner placing 42nd out of 168 competitors in the 5,000 meter race. She finished with a time of 19:01.
Burleson has high and ambitious hopes for next season, “I hope to better this year. I’d like to be in the top 5 teams of our conference and top 10 in the western region. I want the team to make nationals.”
In addition to Burleson being prideful of the team’s stellar season performance, he is also very proud of the girl’s academics.
In his office he showcases 13 certificates from the U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honoring his past and present teams as NCAA Division II Women’s Scholar Teams.
“To qualify as a USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team, the team must have had a cumulative team GPA of 3.00 or better and have tallied a team score at the NCAA Regional Championships,” according to CSUSB Media Relations.
Exiting Senior runner Gomez showcased her talent at the UCSD Invite where she lead the team and placed 30th with a run time of 23:38.6 in the 6,000 meter event.
While losing Gomez will prove difficult, Burleson said, “you should keep an eye out for Patricia Cortez and Sarah Colorado.”
Colorado is a junior transfer student from El Paso Community College in Texas and Cortez is a San Bernardino local in her first year at CSUSB.
Both teammates have been on the radar since preseason and were expected to be two of Burleson’s top five runners for the season.
With runners such as Cortez and Colorado on the team, extreme hard work and perseverance, and excellent coaching provided by Burleson, the Coyotes should definitely achieve his hopes for next season and make it to nationals.