Cross country head coach Armand Crespo’s desire to see his athletes succeed motivates his team both on and off the track.
“He’s a great coach. As an intellectual he can relate to us,” said first year Lancers runner Nathan Guzman. “And he understands our feelings towards running.”
Before he became head coach, Crespo was a runner for both cross country and track and field from 1986 to 1988. Later, Crespo was hired as an assistant coach under then head coach Jesse Gomez.
According to Crespo, his duties as head coach don’t differ much from when he was an assistant coach.
“I was always involved in the administrative stuff,” said Crespo. “This is my passion, my career, my job. I’ve tried to learn every aspect of it. When I was an assistant I was very involved in the planning. So when I came back, when I interviewed for the job in ’07, I already knew all the people in the administration because I was already active.”
This summer, Crespo was also named as the head coach for the track and field team. As both head coach for cross country and track and field, Crespo has a lot on his plate. However, he still holds to the core beliefs he had when he was an assistant coach: to strive to encourage his runners to push for academic and athletic excellence.
“I want to encourage them to not only compete at a high level here but to transfer and get them ready for university athletics,” Crespo said. “I feel that it’s my job. Here, the mission statement of this college is to prepare them and get them ready for the university level. So, I feel that it’s the mission of this team and this department to get them ready.”
According to his runners, many of whom are new to the athletic program, Crespo’s determination to see them succeed is inspiring.
“He’s a good coach,” said first year Lancers runner Brenda Burica. “I’ve never been on a team, so I can’t compare too much, but if you have any complaints he’ll assist you and help you out and encourage you to try your best.”
Crespo has recently seen his team gain attention when the Lancers women placed in the top 15 for state for the fourth time in the past five years. However, Crespo is determined to see his team go further.
“It’s been a challenge. Back in ’96 we were third in state,” Crespo said. “Looking at the results from then to now, the results are a little more difficult to achieve, but looking at the results of the women’s team I think we’re close. I think that we can accomplish that now.”
However, Crespo is determined not to get his hopes too high.
“The thing about this sport and I’d imagine sports in general is that there’s a lot of probability,” he said. “I’ve learned in the years that I’ve been doing this not to get too overly excited because then you may have a bigger disappointment.”
Crespo doesn’t seem to be seeing a lot of disappointment though. This season’s team has some very impressive freshman, like Celso Martinez who recently placed second among the Lancers runners in the Rio Hondo Classic. His women’s team also has been doing well and placed 10th in the cross country race at Whittier Narrows Regional Park.
“They are all academically strong. They’re all student athletes and I think that they’ll be successful,” Crespo said. “All of them are important. We try to individually uplift them and help them be successful because that’s the commitment we made to the when they decided to here and be a Lancer.”