"I think our men's team is a lot stronger than last year, so we'd like to be able to improve on our fourth-place finish," Elders said. "And based on our performances earlier this season, I think our women's team is probably in about the same position as the men. They probably will be ranked around third going into the meet."
Elders had regarded this as a rebuilding year for the men's team, but things have been better than expected.
"It's a young group that was mostly inexperienced on the Division I level, but at this point, I think we have three guys capable of finishing in the top 10, and another couple with the potential to be in the top 15," Elders said.
Francisco Vasquez, Blake Schumacher and Manuel Perales are the Titans' top runners, with Phil Sitner also capable of challenging them. "They all just need to go out and try to run their best, and then we'll see what happens," Elders said.
The women don't have Heather Killeen to set the pace anymore. Her eligibility has ended in cross-country, although she still has a season remaining in track. But Erin Remy, a transfer from Orange Coast College, has helped take up some of the slack, and Elders expects her to challenge for the individual title.
Another surprise has been sophomore Alison Livermore. "She's improved way beyond our expectations," Elders said. "Every week she runs better than the week before. She's really matured as a runner, and she's really tenacious."
Coach Bob Hawking saw some encouraging signs during the first week of preseason practice for his men's basketball team.
One of the most positive was the play of guard Chris St. Clair, who is coming back from postseason knee surgery. Hawking had planned to hold St. Clair out of the two November exhibition games, but Hawking said he's comfortable with St. Clair's comeback.
"He's taken some hits and been fine," Hawking said. "The way I feel right now, he's going to be playing." Hawking had considered red-shirting St. Clair.
Hawking said the competition for the starting point guard spot between junior Ali Nayab and freshman Kenroy Jarrett is off to a lively start.
Hawking already is predicting that his team will shoot better than last season. The Titans' 40.5 field-goal average last season was the worst in the Big West.
The women's soccer team, in only its third season, received its first national ranking this week after its victory over 16th-ranked San Diego. The Titans are 24th in Soccer News.
A strong finish would give the women a shot at the 24-team NCAA playoffs. "We think we have a chance to go 16-3 if we continue to play well, and that should definitely get us some consideration," Coach Al Mistri said.
For the men's team, the chances of a third consecutive trip to the playoffs were hurt by last week's 4-0 loss to UCLA, even though the Titans defeated UC Irvine, 3-0, Sunday. "If we lose one more game we're definitely out of it," Mistri said.
Work scheduled for Friday and Saturday on the Titan baseball field is one of a series of improvements planned to bring the stadium up to the standards needed to bid for an NCAA regional tournament.
"The concept has been approved now for other improvements at the stadium, and we'll be doing them as we're able to afford them," Coach Augie Garrido said.
The field will be renovated as a workshop by members of the Sports Turf Managers Assn., with various regional companies donating labor, equipment and materials.
Permanent restrooms also are under construction at the stadium, costing about $200,000. They are expected to be ready when the season opens in February.
A preseason basketball dinner for boosters is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 6 p.m., at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange, Coach Bob Hawking said. Proceeds from the $100-a-plate function will go to the men's basketball program. Broadcaster Roy Firestone will be the speaker. "We're going to try to make this an annual thing," Hawking said. . . . Friday night's attendance of 2,916 at the Fullerton-UCLA men's soccer game set a record for college soccer at Titan Stadium. The record was 2,787 for the Fullerton-San Diego NCAA playoff game in 1994.