Clovis Community College recently made a huge addition to its athletics program as the school will begin its first season with a cross country team this fall.
Cross country is now the third sport in the school’s athletics program along with soccer and swim and dive.
Coaching the team in its inaugural season is Clayton Albertson. Albertson is a graduate of Buchanan High School where he ran cross country and track from 2008-12. During that time, the team won three section championships in cross country and four titles in track, including a Central Section Individual Championship in both cross country and track.
Albertson was named The Fresno Bee’s “Runner of the Year” twice and ran three top-10 finishes at the state competition. He also holds the All-Time State Junior-class record at Woodward Park.
After high school, Albertson continued his running career by doing cross country and track at Arizona State University.
Albertson said he knew once he was done running he wanted to coach.
“I knew that the community college level is where I would eventually want to coach at. Coaching at Clovis was always a dream since the school started up. I thought it would be awesome to start up a program and get it up and running, and when it happened it was like a dream job,” Albertson said.
Albertson said it has been difficult to recruit runners as he has had to do so during the summer and not during the school year when students are more readily available to talk to. Despite this, he said he thinks he has assembled a quality roster of both men and women.
The team is required to have at least five runners on both sides.
“We are still adding new runners as people learn about the program. We are still trying to promote it as much as we can,” he said.
Students of all ages and experience levels are welcomed to try out for the team as long as the they are enrolled in at least 12 units worth of classes at any of the State Center Community College District schools, which include Fresno City, Clovis Community, Madera and Reedley.
Additionally, the cross country team counts as a three unit class so students only need 9 units from other classes.
Albertson said that the team has convened together in preparation for the upcoming season.
“Right now it is just a summer P.E. course so it is conditioning, just getting them ready for the regular season,” he said. “The season will start when school starts [Aug. 13] and then we will be practicing usually Monday through Saturday in the mornings.”
The season will officially kick off on Sept. 8 when SCCCD schools compete at the Fresno City Invitational.
The team is looking very promising, Albertson said. But the coach said that his expectations for the season are realistic.
“I think that we have the potential to be really good in the future. This first year is just about getting as many runners as we can involved and getting the community behind us and involved as well,” Albertson said.
Still, Albertson believes the team still has a legitimate shot at making it to the state meet at the end of the season.