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Cross-country back in action

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Published 2012-09-03T17:11:00Z”/>


Isaac Brambila

Wildcat runners are ready to conquer narrow, dusty, rocky and muddy trails to continue a winning tradition for the cross-country program.

For 17 years, cross-country head coach Gary Towne has cultivated one of the most successful athletic programs in Chico State’s history, and cross-country runners come into this season with the top national spots in sight.

The men have been ranked third in the nation and first in the West Region by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association polls. Wildcat cross-country runners are coming back this season to attempt their 14th consecutive top-10 spot in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition and their 11th consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association championship.

The men also have four returning All-American runners: Dayne Gradone, Isaac Chavez, Adrian Sherrod and Johnny Sanchez.

Gradone hopes the team will make it to the top-two in NCAA competition, he said, which would best Chico State’s all-time record. He would also like to reach the top -5 in individual competition and repeat his All-American performance from 2011.

“I want to start doing things that I wasn’t doing in the past in training like more mileage per week, more confidence in workouts and more confidence in racing,” Gradone said.

The women also run into this season with high expectations, as the team is ranked eighth in the nation and second in the West Region by USTFCCCA polls and has 10 straight NCAA top-10 finishes and four recent CCAA titles.

High expectations, however, are not new to the Wildcats, and they are used to it by now, junior runner Jonah Weeks said.

The women are expected to finish in the top-four in national competition, she said. As for herself, Weeks would like to reach All-American status by the end of the season, something she was close to accomplishing last year.

Much of the program’s success lies with Towne’s work in the program, Weeks said. Recruitment of freshmen and transfer students always help the team, and Towne’s coaching takes the team even further.

“Coach Towne has a pretty good track record of turning good runners into great runners,” Weeks said.

The secret to keeping the positive streak going is in teamwork, senior Amy Schnittger said. Chemistry, camaraderie and internal athletic competition are part of a successful strategy.

The men’s team could serve as a good example for the women’s team this season, she said.

“The guys’ team is always doing amazing, and they’re all pretty close,” she said. “That’s kind of one of our goals this year, to get the girl’s team to be somewhat like the guys team.”

The Wildcat cross-country team will see action for the first time this season Saturday, Sept. 15 at the West Coast Conference Preview in Portland.

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<strong>Isaac Brambila can be reached at</strong> <a href=”mailto:[email protected]”><em>[email protected]</em></a>


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        Cross-country back in action