Cross Country Ready For MW Championships

Oct. 24, 2012

By: Matt Burkholder

FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State men's and women's cross country team is set to embark in its first Mountain West Championship this Friday. The women start with the 6000-meter at 10 a.m. followed by the men's 8000-meter at 10:40 a.m. The event is hosted by UNLV, at Silver Bowl Sports Complex and Park in Las Vegas, Nev.

The men's and women's teams enter championship week both having five races completed, but have made it to this point having used two different paths. The women's team enters the Friday's race with depth, while the men team has counted on the same point scorers throughout the season.

"We've been fortunate during the course of the season to have good performances from a number of women at different times," said Coach Sean McManus. "For the men, we've been struggling when someone has an off day. We don't have the depth there to step in to fill the void. We have to have everyone run well."

The point of emphasis stressed heading into the championship, particularly for the women, is if the entire team can be consistent throughout, they will more than exceed expectations.

"I think every team probably thinks that they haven't had their perfect race and that's certainly how we feel," said McManus. "We've really been working on trying to get all of those women running well all on the same day. If we do that, I think we can exceed our ranking, which is something that is important to us because we feel were capable of finishing better than were ranked now."

"It's one of those things were if we all get our maximum performances from ourselves, we'll be fine," said McManus.

The uncertainty facing McManus' teams in this championship, unlike in past years, is they have not squared off against any teams from their own conference heading into this week's race. Although, both teams look forward to the challenge and have been enthusiastic about it all week in practice, according to McManus.

"We started from the bottom in the WAC and crawled our way up," said McManus. "Now we've taken it to the next level and it's our time to earn our stripes in the MW."

Athletes to Watch For

Olivier Bernard - Once named Mountain West Athlete of the Week earlier this season. Bernard has led the men's team with the most first-place finishes throughout the season for the 'Dogs. He set a career-best 8K at the Sundodger Invitational, Sept. 15, with a time of 24:14.53.

Danny Vartanian - A steady point contributor for the 'Dogs with two first-place finishes and three second-place finished for Fresno State this season. He set a career-best in the 8K of 24:28.7 at the Sundodger Invitational, Sept. 15.

Saylah Barserian - Has been one the most consistent women's team runners, she has placed first twice, while also having two second-place finished in 2012. Last timeout, she timed in at 17:50.3 at the Bronco Invitational, a career-best time, while also placing as the 19th-best 5K ran by a Bulldog in her second-place finish.

Kristen Galvez - In four races Galvez timed in for the 'Dogs in first, second and twice in third. She has steadily improved each week having has her first first-place finish for Fresno State at the Bronco Invitational, Oct. 13, timing in at 17:45.2, a career-best, while also placing as the 18th-best 5K ran by a Bulldog.

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