Saturday proved historic for The Master’s College Men’s Cross Country team as it became the first men’s team in program history to win the Golden State Athletic Conference title.
The GSAC championships were held at Woodward Park in Fresno for the final time. With Fresno Pacific, along with Azusa Pacific, and Point Loma Nazarene Universities leaving the GSAC next season, this year marked the end of a long tradition of competition between the 10GSAC schools.
Throughout the 2011 cross country season, the Mustang men have had their sights set on a repeat Conference Title. Going into the championship meet today, the squad remained undefeated in GSCA competition. However, they knew the title would by no means be handed to them. Having prepared well for the opportunity, The Master’s men proved themselves to be the same team they have been all season long.
Winning the meet with a team time of 2:05:43, The Master’s College Men’s Cross Country Team made history, not only for their program, but for TMC Athletics, becoming the first team to win back to back Conference Championship Titles for the college.
Leading the way for the Mustangs was TMC’s dynamic duo, John Gilbertson and Anthony Pizzo. Performing just as they have all season long, the two juniors took the race out hard from the gun and did not back down. By the first downhill section, Pizzo and Gilbertson had pulled away from the rest of the field. Running side by side for eight kilometers, the two men finished 1st and 2nd, with Gilbertson crossing the line first in 24:05, followed by Pizzo (24:08).
Next to cross the line for the Mustangs was sophomore Matthew Crichton, narrowly missing All GSAC Honors, finishing 15th overall (25:43). Completing the score for Master’s was Paul Jesson (25:52) and Josiah Downer (25:56). With a team time just over two minutes faster than the 2010 team that finished 11th nationally, the TMC men’s squad looks ready to make more history at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, just two weeks from today; their goal: to step on the podium as a top three team.
Following the same path of progression as the men’s team, the Lady Mustangs ran their way into the history books as well. With the highest finish in TMC history, the women’s team finished 4th overall, just seconds behind #12 ranked Westmont College and #8 Biola. Winning the meet for the women was Azusa Pacific, setting a new team time record of 1:28:56 on the 5k course.
Currently ranked 13th nationally, the Lady Mustangs are likely to become the first women’s cross country team from The Master’s College to qualify for the NAIA National Championship meet. Hoping to join the men’s team on the plane, the ladies will have to wait until tomorrow’s final top 25 coaches’ poll is released to know for certain they have qualified. In most cases, a women’s team ranked 18th or higher before the final rating will secure an at large bid.
Leading the way for TMC’s women’s squad was Holly Kopp, finishing 5th overall (18:02), followed by Sarah Pattison (18:29), and Hannah Kellerman (18:33); 14th and 15th respectively. With these performances, Kopp and Pattison became the first women in TMC history to claim All GSAC Honors. Completing the score for the women’s squad was Katrina Graham (19:07) and Micayla Frankian (19:35).