By Alexis De La Cruz |Staff Writer|
Cross Country has been a part of Cal State San Bernardino Athletics from the very beginning in 1984, adding to the history books with each year that passes by.
The cross-country team competed at the Division III level for the first seven years, at a time when competition faced in dual meets.
The squad collected 35 wins out of 39 meets and made seven straight appearances in the NCAA Division III West Regional. Despite relative success, the program was discontinued in 1991.
The sport returned in 1997, this time as a participant in the NCAA Division II. Loyal coach Tom Burleson also returned to CSUSB when the program did.
It took time for the team to adjust to the new division but the Coyotes experienced success again in 2002. Tanya Zeferjahn, a freshman at the time, quickly left her mark on the program.
Along with winning the CCAA Freshman of the Year Award, Zeferjahn snagged All-CCAA honors in her first year. Her success continued in 2004 when she competed in the NCAA Division II Championships.
Zeferjahn finished 28th that year and earned the school’s first, and only, All-American title in 2004. The following year she finished fourth at the NCAA DII West Regional.
Two years ago, CSUSB decided to recognize and immortalize the accomplishments of the Coyote runner, Zeferjahn.
She was included in the fourth class of athletes to be inducted into the CSUSB Hall of Fame.
Zeferjahn became the standard for cross country runners at CSUSB, where she still holds top 10 marks in both the 5000 and 6000 meters for the Coyotes.
Runners picked up the torch in 2015 and had one of the most successful seasons in our school’s history. The team placed third in the CCAA championship and finished in the top 10 in the NCAA West Regional.
Patricia Cortez, a senior at the time, came close to breaking a school record when she raced in the All-West Region and earned the first conference and regional awards since Zeferjahn.
The collective success from all the Coyote cross-country runners last year earned the program a national ranking of 25. The success continued with the help of current senior Laura Aceves.
Aceves, a transfer from East LA College, brought experienced leadership to the Coyotes last year and grabbed the spotlight this season.
She won both the NCAA West Region and CCAA Championships. Subsequently, she was named runner of the year at both events.
She was named All-American this past year after finishing 13th at the NCAA Championship. Finally, Aceves holds school records in both the 5000 and 6000m. CSUSB also honored her as Female Athlete of the Year.
The bar has been raised and the torch will be passed to Juniors Phillie Bacon and Lauren Boydd as they will look to continue the success of the program.