After his team's selection to compete in the NCAA Division II Men's 10-K Cross-Country Championships at 8:45 a.m. Saturday at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Cal Poly Pomona Coach Jim Sackett has reason for optimism.
For one thing, the meet should mark the return of senior Abel Mota, one of the team's top runners. Mota, who had pneumonia, has not competed since Oct. 11.
"We're a totally different team with Mota back," Sackett said. "He's running strong again."
The Broncos, making their fourth straight appearance in the championships, finished fourth in the NCAA West Regional meet two weeks ago, but Sackett expects a stronger performance in the 17-team national meet.
"The favorites are South Dakota State, Edinboro (Pa.) State and Keene (N.H.) State," Sackett said. "After that it is probably a tossup."
Pomona's top runner should be junior Eddie Toro, who placed fourth over the same 10-K course in 32:09 at the regionals. Other top runners for the Broncos are former Charter Oak High standout David Loud, Angel Roman, Paul Gianetto, Shawn Sinclair, Kent Lawrence and Mike Parker.
"We need an exceptional performance from everybody," said Sackett, whose team finished fifth last year.
Neither Cal State Los Angeles nor Cal Poly Pomona qualified as a team for the NCAA Division II Women's 5-K Cross-Country Championships at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, but schools will have excellent individuals competing.
Cal State will be represented by former San Gabriel High standout Sylvia Mosqueda, who finished third in the West Regionals in 17:11 two weeks ago. It will be the first appearance in the nationals for the junior, who won the 1985 state community college cross-country championship for East Los Angeles College.
Pomona also has a strong contender in senior Joann Howard, a Division II All-American who is making her third straight appearance in the national meet. Howard finished eighth in the regional in 17:34.
"She had her school record time of 17:06.4 earlier this season at the Riverside Invitational, but the nationals course is much tougher," Coach John Turek said. "We are hoping for the best for her."
The top 25 finishers in both the men's and women's meets earn Division II All-America honors.
Cal Poly Pomona, two-time defending NCAA Division II women's basketball champion, opens its bid for another title in the Lions Club Classic Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Kellogg Gym in Pomona.
Pomona will face San Francisco State at 6 p.m. Friday and Cal State Northridge meets Chico State in the opener at 2. The title game will start at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Broncos, coached by Darlene May, have six lettermen from last year's team including All-America senior guard Michelle McCoy (5-6) and Debra Larsen, 1986 California Collegiate Athletic Assn. athlete of the year. McCoy, a smooth ball handler who is called "Ms. Magic," averaged 12.6 points and 5.7 assists last season. Larsen (5-10), who also stars in track, averaged 13.8 points and 8.4 rebounds last year.
Pomona also counts on swingman Paula Tezak (5-8 junior), centers Marcine Edmonds (6-0 sophomore) and Lisa Potts (6-2 senior) and guard Cathy Gooden (5-5 sophomore). However, Edmonds is academically ineligible until Dec. 5.
"I feel optimistic," May said. "We're about where we were last year at this time. Depth is by far our problem. We don't have the bench we had last year. The team has a great attitude."
The Broncos will also rely on two outstanding newcomers, freshman center Niki Bracken (6-2), a prep standout at Compton High, and 5-10 senior forward Terri Dantuma, who starred for the Pomona volleyball team last year.
The Cal Poly Pomona men's basketball team may be the favorite in its half of the Lions Club Classic Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Kellogg Gym.
The Broncos, coached by George Fisher, will face the College of Notre Dame in their first-round game at 8 p.m. Friday after Augsburg of Minnesota plays Pomona-Pitzer in the opener at 4. The championship game is at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Fisher, who guided his team to a 14-13 record last year, said he is optimistic about his team's chances this season.
"It's a question of pretending or contending," he said. "We've got to get out of the pretending stage and into contending status. We've been able to develop a quiet sort of confidence so that the fellows believe they can compete."
Pomona's top returning players are 6-7 senior center-forward Greg Brofer, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds last year, and 5-10 junior guard Darron Suttle, who averaged 13.8 points and 3.6 assists. However, Brofer may be academically ineligible until Dec. 5.
Other top players for the Broncos include former Pomona High standout Zenon M (6-7) at forward, Mark Bray (6-8) at center, Fred Russ (6-2) at forward and Bill Dobbs (6-1) at guard.