The 22-year drought ends

Gilberto Manzano

Lilyana Morejon. Photo Courtesy of CSUN Athletic Media Relations
Lilyana Morejon. Photo Courtesy of CSUN Athletic Media Relations

In 1987 Cal State Northridge was host to the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) conference meet. The races were held on campus and it went through the corn fields on Lassen and Zelzah.

That was the last time CSUN cross country hosted a meet.

It’s been more than 20 years since the conference meet and what used to be corn fields are now dorms. The Matador men’s and women’s cross country team will put an end to the drought on Friday. They will welcome universities from all over California to compete in the Northridge Invitational at Lake Balboa-Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve.

CSUN has tried for 20 years to get a course around Lake Balboa but was never able to get it because an outside agency wouldn’t allow anyone to use it.

“We tried to get down in this wildlife area and we’ve always been blocked,” cross country head coach Don Strametz said. “The agency relinquished its right to that land and gave it to the park and recs to supervise. Therefore we’ve been able this year to finally get permission to go in.”

In the women’s 6,000-meter race the Matadors will see plenty of great runners from schools like USC, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, just to name a few. The CSUN women are led by star runner Lilyana Morejon, who is having an outstanding season.

“(Morejon) is looking phenomenal,” coach Strametz said. “This will be quite a different race for her. She will be up there in the top group of finishers.”

The men’s 8,000-meter race is expected to have 95 runners compete, and the Matador men are using this race to get ready for the Big West Conference meet coming up in a few weeks.

“I look for an improved effort on the men’s side … I think we will run better,” Strametz said.

There will be many track and field athletes and former CSUN runners to support and enjoy the invitational.

“We got a lot of alumni coming who have been calling (about the meet),” Strametz said. “The whole track team will be down there watching also. It’s just nice to have the athletes have a chance to perform at what we call ‘home.’ The kids are really excited about it.”

The women’s race is set to take off at 4:45 p.m. and the men’s race takes place at 5:20 p.m.