USC Opens The 2014 Cross Country Season Saturday At The Mark Covert Classic

    Senior Erica Capellino begins her final season of running cross country for USC.
    Aug. 28, 2014

    The USC women's cross country team will open up the 2014 season at the Mark Covert Classic hosted by CS Fullerton in Brea, Calif. on Aug. 30 at 9:15 a.m.

    USC has entered a team of junior Katerina Berdousi, freshman Amber Bragdon, senior Eric Capellino, junior Nicole Davies, redshirt sophomore Lauren Grego, junior Reika Kijima, junior Alyssa Reardon, freshman Madison Ricks, senior Kira Soderstrom, junior Natasha Strickland and junior Jenna Tong.

    "We have three newcomers running because we do not want to rush them into it and the returners did the training during the summer," said USC Cross Country Coach David Freeman. "They are new to the system, so we want to let them go out and see the meet, learn from the experience, watch the returners do the warm-up, the cool down, the drills, the preparation for the meet. The next meet we will add in more freshmen with the returners. This meet is more to see where we are and what we need to do moving forward. It kind of showcases all the hard work these young ladies did during the summertime and the improvement they made from last season."



    2014 USC CROSS COUNTRY OUTLOOK - By Head Coach David Freeman

    Laying The Foundation For Future Success

    I'm excited for the 2014 cross country season. We started laying the foundation last season as to what the expectation will be moving forward. The young women we have on the team returning took that to heart and really trained over the summer and came back more fit and ready to go. I think we are heading in the right direction. We have some improvements to make because the Pac-12 Conference is so tough in cross country, so we are still trying to build a good cross country team that will compete. I think we have a good foundation returning to show the way to the newcomers. With the addition of our newcomers we are more competitive at practice and focused on the goals and the expectation of the team. Our seven new runners are really excited to help us move this program in the right direction. We are on our way. This is step one of a process, but you have to start somewhere.

    When it comes to the people we are really going to count on during cross country season, we start with the returners junior Katerina Berdousi, senior Erica Capellino, redshirt sophomore Lauren Grego, senior Kira Soderstrom and junior Jenna Tong. They put in a lot of quality work during the summertime. I'm hoping they take the lead and help the newcomers develop and get into the same work ethic they showed during the summertime.

    I also think that junior Nicole Davies is going to come back strong. She has had some setbacks along the way, but has shown signs of really developing and I really believe she can contribute. Junior Allysa Reardon has also put in a lot of work since last season. She is the definition of hardwork. If you put in the work during the summertime, it does pay off. When it comes to distance running there is a lot of alone time when you are training. It is a tribute to her that she put in the time to really develop the distance side of things and develop the basework, so now she is coming in at a higher level than last season and I am excited to see her development as the year goes on.

    Among the newcomers, I think junior Reika Kijima will really be a contributor. Freshman Madison Ricks is more of a true middle distance runner, but she can help us out in cross country, too. A lot of our newcomers like freshman Amber Bragdon are young in the sport. I think her event will be the 5K and 10K in track, so I believe cross country will do her some good and she is making real progress right now. A lot of our young freshmen coming in right now are true middle distance women, so we are trying to develop them, build a basework of mileage so they will be able to handle the cross country season as a whole.

    Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert has laid down a clear expectation of what the team goal is, not only for cross country, but also for track and field. We have a season-long training program and vision as to what to expect throughout the whole process.

    USC's cross country program is making strides. The whole thing is changing the culture and expectation and that is what coach Caryl brings. We are changing the mindset of not being satisfied with coming in near the bottom of the Pac-12. We want to compete with and rub elbows with the best teams in the country and the best in the conference.