LANCASTER - All good, or great, things have to come to an end eventually.
After 43 years of coaching, including 28 at Antelope Valley College, head track and field coach Mark Covert has decided to call it quits.
On Friday, when the men's and women's track and field team travels to Bakersfield College for the Battle of the Regions track meet which will feature several of the top schools in the state, Covert will enter his final season as track coach for the Marauders.
"This has been a long journey. Since I entered AVC, I think we've built a good program. We've been able to compete with the bigger schools and we've had kids that have won," Covert said. "That's something we're proud of. With the new facility, we've been able to host some of the biggest track meets in the state and it's been fun. My assistant coaches (over the years) have done a remarkable job. I've had some great coaches."
Covert is not one for his numerous accolades, but make no mistake he has produced more than 50 All-Americans in track and field and cross country and in all his years in coaching has sent at least one athlete to the state meet in all but one.
"We've been able to develop and move most of our kids on," he said. "The fact fact that we've had someone, on the very last day of the season, competing for a state championship is something I'm pretty proud of."
Hopefully this year's bunch will prouduce more for the long-time coach.
On the women's side, the Marauders will be without the services of former cross country All-American Krista Beck and former All-American Angela Wilson, who finished second in the state last season in the 800 and moved on to compete at San Diego State.
However, Covert is still excited about hammer thrower, Nina Augusta, who Covert said, "will be one of the better hammer throwers in southern California."
Joining Augusta, are Destiny Ventura, who could make some noise in both hurdle events, Sharise Thomas in the long jump and Jasmine Duncan in the 400. Covert also said that both relay teams could be productive.
"The kids are anxious to compete. It's all about staying healthy," he said. "But it's only February. We have to be really good in about eight or nine weeks."
Mariah Theologidy is another runner that will be a huge asset to the team. Theologidy missed being an All-American this season by only five places in cross country. Theologidy, who could compete in the steeplechase, however, is nursing an injury, Covert said.
"Hopefully we will have her back in the next few weeks or so. It's a lot longer road in track than it is cross country," he said. "We have about four or five kids that could be real standouts."
Fernando Flores will be one to watch on the men's side in the 5,000 meter run. Amari Carrington will help in the long jump as well as Samuel Aguirre in the steeplechase.
"He's (Flores) worked really hard during the winter," Covert said. "We may be deeper than last year. We're going to have to develop, but I think we'll be fine."
Covert has always said that track is a long season and it's about where you're at near the end of the season.
Friday's opening meet in Bakersfield will tell some things.
"This is probably the best opening meet of the season in the state," Covert said. "It's a really good quality meet. It will be a real wakeup call for some of the kids. Kids get to see real quick the difference between high school and college."
So following this season there will be no more long bus rides to as far south as San Diego and as far north as Sacramento. There will be more more state meets to host. And there will be no more kids to recruit, so when asked what will he do in his spare time.
"I probably won't go to as many track meets," Covert said.