Cross country members hunger for a return to Nationals

After finishing the 2013 season in eighth place in the West Region of the NCAA Division II Regional Cross Country rankings, SF State’s men’s cross country team enters the new season faster and stronger.

“They’ve done the summer training, so we are now prepared for the season’s training,” Lyons said. “Their focus and dedication will determine their success more than anything.”

With the fall season right around the corner, the Gators start the season ranked ninth in preseason rankings.

Co-captain Logan Smith said the team feels underwhelmed with the current standing, but that they will improve with three new additions that include freshmen Austin Magin, Andrew Selevos and transfer student Jesse Fenn.

“I feel strong and the entire team is looking great, especially the new guys keeping up with the older guys,” Smith said. “They have a lot of charisma, talent and are all doing great.”

The Gators aim to advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship this season and are ready to work hard to get there.

Last season, junior Benji Preciado missed Nationals by four seconds. He is determined to return and make up for his missed opportunity.

“I’m hungry to be back there,” Preciado said. “As a team I want us to get better so we can all go to Nationals together.”

The Gators’ first and last appearance at Nationals was in 2012, where the team finished in 22nd.

“I’m the last person that was in the 2012 team that went to Nationals, (and) I want to be back there,” Smith said. “This may be my last season running and I want these guys that have never been to Nationals to experience it.”

For now, the team is preparing for the 2014 season opener Sept. 18, where the Gators face off against Academy of Art and Cal State East Bay at Golden Gate Park’s Speedway Meadow course.

“That meet will be good for everyone to put on a uniform and ease into competition,” Lyons said.