With underclassmen stepping up (and stepping quickly), Loyola Marymount University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams posted strong showings in their season-opening meet last weekend.

Competing in the 35th annual Mark Covert Classic at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, LMU’s men’s squad placed second behind Cal State Fullerton in the collegiate races, with points for the top five places earned by a freshman, two sophomores and two juniors.

The highest finisher was junior Simeon Paul whose time of 25:21 was good for eighth place. Sophomore Max Smith (25:36, a personal best by over one minute),  junior Kyle Friedler (25:43), freshman Roberto Ruelas from Loyola High School (25:56) and sophomore Zach Arias (25:56) rounded out the Lions’ top five.

For the women's side, redshirt senior Kyla Danforth (18:05) was third in collegiate race. Freshmen Gabriela Hernandez and Avery Doan also helped the women’s team to place third in the event behind Cal State Fullerton and the University of San Diego in the college races.

Coached by Scott Guerrero, now in his 22nd season at the helm, LMU’s men’s roster also includes junior Joseph Garcia, an All-State runner at Salesian High in East L.A. The women’s squad includes redshirt junior Ashley Flores, a 2016 graduate of Sacred Heart High in Lincoln Heights and a transfer from St. Benedict College.

The Lions return to action Sept. 7 for the Biola Invitational in Fullerton, followed by the Cougar Classic in Colfax, Wash., on Sept. 13. 

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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