The NCAA Division II West regional cross-country championships will be held at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in a month, but Cal State Northridge Coach Don Strametz will have more pressing matters on his mind when the Matadors play host to the Northridge Invitational at CSUN this afternoon.
Strametz needs to find a solid fifth man for Northridge to have a realistic chance at qualifying for the NCAA Division II championships for the third consecutive season.
With junior Derik Vett and freshman Mike Glaze redshirting because of injuries, and freshman Gerardo Vaca ineligible because of Proposition 48 academics requirements, Northridge has lost 3 runners expected to be among its top 6 this season. Suddenly, Strametz is faced with a problem he has not encountered the past 2 seasons--a lack of depth.
“That’s definitely a concern of mine right now,” Strametz said. “In the next month, someone has to emerge as a solid fifth runner or our season could be over real early.”
The top 3 teams, and possibly a fourth wild-card selection, will advance from the West regionals to the Division II championships in Clinton, Miss., on Nov. 19. And with 4 of the nation’s 10 top-ranked teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn., and 6 of the top 20 teams hailing from California, placing in the top 4 will not be easy.
The Matadors are solid up front with senior Reggie Dechard, sophomore George Castro, and freshmen Jeff Gilkey and Sasha Vujic. But a cross-country team is only as good as its fifth man, and Northridge has been hindered in that area this season.
Strametz said that freshmen Fernando Fernandez from Belmont High and Bob Evans from Santa Monica are capable of filling the Matadors’ void.
Today’s meet begins with the women’s 5,000-meter race at 4:30 p.m. and concludes with the men’s 5-mile race at 5:15.