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Marcus Fortugno races to London

Senior track 400 meter and 200 meter sprinter Marcus Fortugno is La Verne’s first-ever event champion in the 400 meter run at the California-Nevada State Championships. Fortugno ran the fastest quarter-mile time a year ago, 46.55 seconds, securing the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division III West Region Track Athlete of the Year. / photo by Cameron Barr

Christian Orozco
Sports Editor

Senior Marcus Fortugno has been leaving his competition in the dust for the past four years. He has made a mark in Leopard athletics and hopes to continue his running career even after graduation.

Fortugno hopes to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and with what he has accomplished the last four seasons he is a good candidate to represent our nation.

“I have learned that you never bet against Marcus Fortugno,” assistant track and field coach Jason Tavarez said.

The three time All-American was recently selected as the Southern California Intercol­legiate Athletic Conference Male Athlete of the Week for the week of April 22 to 28 for his outstanding performance at the SCIAC Track and Field Championships.

Fortugno received first place in the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter dash at the SCIAC Championships. He also ran to first place in the four by 400 meter relay with his teammates Michael Anderson, Michael Sacoto and Chancise Watkins.

“Marcus as a teammate is freaking awesome, he is very encouraging,” Watkins said.

Fortugno was awarded the Anthony P. Scafani Male Athlete of the Year Award Monday at the athletic department’s Senior Blanket Awards ceremony.

The 4×400 meter relay is Fortugno’s favorite race.

“It’s at the end of the day and it just gets everyone going,” Fortugno said.

Fortugno is a business administration major and hopes to get a job that is related to running. He would like to get a job with a running shoe brand.

Fortugno began running track and cross country when he was a sophomore at Charter Oak High School. After Charter Oak Fortugno came to the University of La Verne and he enjoys the small community that ULV has.

“I like it here,” Fortugno said. “Everyone’s pretty close. It makes things a lot easier.”

A group that Fortugno has become extremely close to is his coaching staff.

“It helps having the same four coaches for four years,” Fortugno said. “We take the same momentum from each year into the next.”

Fortugno says he knows he is fortunate because he knows many sports on campus get different coaches frequently.

“For me, personally, as much as I’m his coach he is also my friend,” Tavarez said. “We share a lot of the same interests. It is a really awesome relationship.”

Fortugno has also created a strong bond with Watkins, who runs the same events as Fortugno and runs with him in the four by 400 meter relay.

“It’s motivated me,” Fortugno said. “Seeing him (Watkins) have outbursts during races like he has had this year.”

Watkins, only a sophomore, says he will be the next big thing to come out of La Verne, largely in part of how much Fortugno has helped him out the last two years.

“It’s a blessing to learn from the best,” Watkins said. “Me and Marcus are brothers, we are more than teammates. That’s what makes us better.”

Watkins credits Fortugno for helping him become one of the top runners in SCIAC.

Watkins also says he taught Fortugno a couple things. Watkins says he taught Fortugno how to have swagger, smile for the cameras and how to look good while beating everyone else.

As for what keeps Fortugno motivated, he says he likes the attention. Another thing that is keeping Fortugno motivated is that he is trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. He is currently working at Sports Chalet and is trying to get a sponsor through Brooks running shoes.

Fortugno says that some of his coaches have close ties with some of the track clubs and that will help him with his Olympic pursuit.

“I would not be surprised if I see him in the Olympics running because that’s how much I believe in him,” Watkins said.

So when the 2012 Olympics are on this summer keep an eye out for La Verne’s very own Marcus Fortugno.

Christian Orozco can be reached at christian.orozco@laverne.edu.

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