The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

The outlook for the 2013 cross country season at the College of San Mateo looks good.

Better than just a little good, actually.

“I feel really good about this team,” said head coach Joe Mangan. “It’s the first time in quite a while.”

Why all the excitement? Well, for the first time in quite some time, Mangan isn’t scrambling to piece together a five-runner scoring squad to start the season. For a couple of seasons now, the luxury of having five quality runners who can put points on the board for the Bulldogs (for both the men and women sides) is something Mangan has not had.

But heading into the new season, one that officially kicks off in a couple of weeks at Tuolumne Park in Modesto, Mangan has two complete teams to work with.

“I like my team,” Mangan said. “I like the composition. It looks like we’ve had an uptake not really in numbers but in quality. If you can find five solid runners, you usually have a good team. And this year it looks like we have five runners.”

The quality has definitely taken an upswing on the women’s side, where Alejandra Marin returns to provide the sophomore leadership. Marin missed last season with an injury, but during her freshman campaign the Half Moon Bay product finished ninth in the Coast Conference and 18th in Northern California.

“We’re happy to have her services,” Mangan said.

The same can be said of a pair of newcomers. Former Terra Nova Tiger Megan Guillermo will don the blue and white. “She looks like she’s going to be a solid runner for us this year.”

Another incoming freshman is Jordan Chase, a product of Mercy High School-Burlingame.

Mangan said CSM considers itself fortunate to have Mei-Lin Okino, a transfer from the University of California at San Diego and a former All-PAL runner from the powerhouse that is Carlmont High School. Mangan said that, based on her credentials, he considers Okino to be his No. 1 heading into the new season. She’s currently coming back strong from an ankle injury.

On the men’s side, the team returns two strong contributors. Anthony Cortes is back following a season when he qualified for the state meet after finishing 15th in the conference. He’s joined by Franciso Vargas, the former Aragon Don, who made the all-conference team last year. Cortes is of Half Moon Bay fame.

CSM adds back Thomas Setser, who previously ran with the Bulldogs in 2011 and figures to contribute nicely in the No. 5 slot.

Mangan said he’s very excited about his incoming runners. Chief among those is former Carlmont Scot Matt Rouse, who based on preseason workouts, is taking over the No. 1 position on the team and is having little trouble transitioning to the community college distance (one mile more than high school). “He looks very strong.”

Another great find, who Mangan actually credits to CSM softball coach Nicole Borg, is Esteban Rodrigues. An aspiring boxer, Mangan said on that on occasions, Borg would point Rodrigues out during runs in her fitness class. “He’s shown some very good aptitude in distance running,” Mangan said.

CSM is slated to host its own meet on Sept. 27 at Crystal Springs in Belmont.

Mangan honored

Mangan played the modest card well Tuesday afternoon. But he couldn’t help but smile and glow a bit when the members of the media were told he was voted by the California Community Colleges Cross Country and Track and Field Coaches Association as the Coach of the Year in men’s track and field for his work last season.

“In all seriousness, I think of it as a program award,” Mangan said. “I don’t do anything by myself. I have great assistants. In my world, that’s the way it should be when you’re trying to run a track program — you end up getting the award, it’s a great privilege and I like the honor, but I look at it as more of a program award to be honest.”

Mangan’s staff includes the legendary Mike Lewis, Pat Donohue, Gary Dilley and D’Marcus Williams.