Cross country ready for 67th Aztec Invitational

by Antonio Morales

The longest-running cross country invitational west of the Mississippi is back for another year.

The 67th Annual Aztec Invitational will be held at beginning 8 a.m. this Saturday.

The event will be held at Balboa Park, and the San Diego State community is encouraged to join the festivities.

SDSU is bringing back the community race for the first time in three years.

“It brings an opportunity for the San Diego State community to come and participate and run a course that has been run by several Olympians,” SDSU cross country head coach Shelia Burrell said. “This is a way for a lot of young people who are runners who are on campus can come out to the invite and compete on the same course the varsity athletes compete on.”

The fee to enter into the Community Race is $25, and $30 on the day of the race, which will begin at 10 a.m.

A number of schools have competed in the Aztec Invitational in the past. Duke, Arkansas, UCLA and USC are just some of the schools that have participated in the past

The invitational is a great opportunity to showcase the SDSU cross country program.

“It lets us highlight our athletes at home,” Burrell said. “It also brings exposure into San Diego by bringing in teams to Balboa and seeing our course.”

Teams from throughout the country will be at the invitational.

Coach Burell thinks the team is prepared to take on all competitors this Saturday.

“We’re really ready this year,” Burrell said. “Balboa is not an easy course either, you can’t really get caught up in the scenic part of it. We’ve been training on the course for the last two weeks. We’re in better shape and more ready this time, this year than we were at this time last year.”

Juniors Marianne Hogan and Taylor Johnson along with senior Josefine Koskinen are anticpated to be top competitors for the team this year.

Hogan, Johnson and Koskinen are expected to get some help this year from a good incoming freshman class.

Depth is a strong suit for this year’s team according to coach Burrell. The added depth is just another reason there are high hopes for the Aztecs this year.

“There is a raised level of expectation,” Burrell said. “I’m expecting us to go to the NCAA regionals and be competitive in cross country. We’re going to run our six races and run them hard.”