by David Sutton
A good recruiting effort by Head Cross Country Coach Pat Widolff has helped him assemble the largest group of runners in his tenure at La Verne. A total of 21 runners will be looking to improve on the fifth place finishes by both the men’s and women’s teams last year.
With such a large group of runners Widolff feels that it will help the team greatly.
“Runners can practice with each other, run in groups, to improve their time,” he said.
Senior Gilbert Gomez and junior Brian Ward are the returning one and two runners for the men’s team and senior Erika Spencer will anchor the women’s team.
Returning to the team this year are senior Larry Gillen, juniors Jose Barba, Maria Esqueda and Kelly Perkins, sophomores William Donald, Manuel Estrada and Veronica Mendez.
New to the team are freshmen Ernie Cambrone, Jamie Corley, Jeremy Gonzales, Stephanie Lesniak, Kenia Magallanes, Lyn Merrill, Eren Piceno, Jessica Rios, Jackie Serrano and transfer students Alonzo Ramirez and Beverly Wilson.
With Occidental and Claremont-Mudd usually being the strongest teams in the conference, Widolff knows that catching them may take some time.
“I wish we could just jump to the top,” said Widolff.
Over the past three years the top five runners have improved on their times greatly. Before the runners would finish four to five minutes behind the pack, now only one or two minutes separate them.
Widolff is excited about the upcoming year and would like nothing more than to see his runners improve.
“I get enjoyment out of seeing people get better and better,” he said.
This season the team will compete in six meets including the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championships.
The Leos first meet is tomorrow at the Cal State Fullerton Invitational.