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Cruz Leads CSLA in CCAA Quest

October 31, 1987|JOHN ORTEGA | Times Staff Writer

Benny Cruz, a former standout at Burbank High and Valley College, will attempt to lead Cal State Los Angeles to its first men's title in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. cross-country championships at Cal State Northridge today.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the five-time defending Division II champion, is favored to win its ninth consecutive conference title in the women's race.

Cruz, 22, should run away with the individual title and help his team end Cal Poly SLO's one-year reign atop the CCAA. The Mustangs, the No. 6-ranked team in the Division II poll, struggled early this season. However, Coach Tom Henderson said his squad is eager to defend its title.

"We're ready to run well," Henderson said. "Our training program is designed to peak at the end of the season."

Senior Will James, a Division II All-American in the 1,500 meters for 13th-ranked CSUN, Mike Livingston of Cal Poly SLO and Rob Arsenault of Cal State L. A. should battle for the runner-up position behind Cruz.

The race for the women's individual title should be as exciting. Gladees Prieur of Cal Poly SLO, the defending Division II champion, will renew her rivalry with CSUN sophomore Darcy Arreola.

Prieur, who was weakened by a blood disorder last track season, has recovered, according to Cal Poly SLO Coach Lance Harter. "The blood disorder ran its course and she had a solid summer and fall of training," he said.

In the team race, Cal Poly SLO, ranked No. 1 in Division II, should waltz to victory. CSUN is ranked second and Cal State L. A. is ranked fourth.

The men's five-mile race starts at 9:30 this morning and the women's 5,000-meter race begins at 10:30.

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