Cross-country Coach Robert Claessen’s 19-year career longer than some team members’ lifespan

By Jessyka Holguin

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Coach Robert Claessen is easily recognized on campus. He often can be seen riding his bike or running around campus with a pack of young women! The women’s cross country mentor has coached track for 19 years– as long as some team members have been alive!

He said has been interested in running since he was a child and was naturally drawn to the running trails around Lake Murray. Injuries prevented him from competing in cross country as a college student here at Grossmont. However, he later started coaching cross country at Humboldt State College.  The coach said some of his favorite experiences were running through the fog and forests up there in northern California.

He also has run in different countries and says, if he could. he would love to travel all over the world.

The coach said ths season his main goal is for everyone on Grossmont’s team to be healthy and to have fun with the work outs. He said that one of the great things about cross country is that it transfers into everyone’s personal life. It helps people deal with challenges and makes them stronger for it, he said.

This year’s team has a positive drive and a desire to help one another out, Claessen said.  He added this is one of the reasons he predicts that the team will do really well in the conference this year. Cross Country has much to be proud of at Grossmont , with teams in 7 out of 8 years making it to the Southern California Conference. If the team does well in this conference it will get the opportunity to run in the state championships.

What sets Grossmont’s team apart from other competitors is that it has great access to mountains and trails within a few miles of the campus, Claessen said.  For example, Cowles Mountain and Mission Trails Regional Park are weekly work out sites for the team. These work outs get the team ready forcompetitions elsewhere.

The coach noted that the season is still young and there still are openings on the Women’s Cross Country Team.  He said Cross Country is a sport that requires people to work out all year in order to compete. Claussen said one of the attractions of Grossmont’s Cross Country Team is that everyone becomes like a family. This not only is a benefit for the individual members; it is a key to the team achieving its goals, he said.

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Holguin is a student in Media Comm 132.  She may be contacted at jessykah@gcsummit.com

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