SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – There’s no other way to look at it.
Saturday will be a busy day for The Master’s College Athletic Department.
Tacking onto the women’s basketball team’s regular season 1:30 p.m. away game against Carroll College at the CHM Hotels Invitational in Santa Barbara, four of TMC’s fall sport squads will be competing in the NAIA postseason.
Two of the NAIA playoff competitions will be held on the grounds of The Master’s College.
Starting things off will be the men’s and women’s cross country teams who will be competing at the NAIA National Cross Country Championships at the historic Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kansas.
Both squads are slated to compete against 32 teams and a field of individual qualifiers in their respective races. The men’s race will boast a total of 321 student-athletes from 96 schools while the women’s race will consist of 327 athletes from 95 schools.
The 15th-ranked Mustangs will toe the line for the men’s 8-kilometer race at 10:30 a.m. (CST), while the 7th-ranked Lady Mustangs will compete in the women’s 5-kilometer at 11:45 a.m. (CST).
Last year, TMC alumni John Gilbertson captured the 2012 Cross Country National Championship, earning NAIA All-American status along the way. To no one’s surprise, TMC’s eight-man roster will be eyeing to pick up where Gilbertson left off by earning multiple NAIA-All American recognitions and a possible strong team finish.
Also last year, Hannah Kellerman, Katrina Graham, and Karis Frankian represented the Lady Mustangs in the women’s 5k NAIA National Cross Country Championship race. Both Kellerman and Frankian earned NAIA All-American honors and will look to duplicate those kudos again this year.
“I’m excited to take these two teams to nationals as they are the closest groups we’ve ever had,” commented cross country head coach Zach Schroeder. “It shows when they race and they are willing to lay themselves out for each other. I’m excited to see what we can do.”
1,600 miles to the west, the NAIA playoff festivities will continue on the campus of The Master’s College where the women’s soccer team and the women’s volleyball team will host National Championship Opening Round matches against Cal State San Marcos in each of those sports.
At 1:00 PM (PDT), the Lady Mustangs and the Cougars will square off on Reese Field. Earlier in the season, the two squads met up on, September 21 in the NAIA Women’s Soccer Match Of The Week. TMC, who had a No. 16 ranking at the time, topped then-No. 15 CSU San Marcos 2-0 at Reese Field.
The all-time record between the two squads is dead even at 3-3-1.
The 16-ranked Lady Mustangs (15-5) received an at-large berth after finishing in fourth-place in the best women’s soccer conference (GSAC) in the country. All five losses during the 2013 campaign were to teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
This will be TMC’s second all-time visit to the National Tournament.
The six at-large teams were selected based on the final official NAIA Women’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI). The MRPI consists of the team’s modified winning percentage, their opponents’ winning percentage and the cumulative ratings points from the NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. Each of the three values has a weighted percentage calculated in the MRPI.
The 15 Opening Round winners, as well as host Mobile (Ala.), will advance to the national championship final site in Orange Beach, Alabama, Dec. 2 – 7.
Finally, that night, the Lady Mustangs will take on the Cougars in the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round at Bross Court.
The 16th-ranked Lady Mustangs finished fourth in the GSAC (8-6) and posted and posted a 19-8 overall record. San Marcos (26-11) made its way into the postseason by winning the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Championship last weekend.
And while both squads didn’t meet up this season, the Cougars are no strangers to The Master’s College volleyball team.
In the pool play portion of last year’s NAIA National Tournament, the Cougars blanked TMC 3-0. Later that same week the Lady Mustangs answered back in a one-set tiebreaker against CSUSM, earning the final spot amongst the tournament’s 12 teams.
Overall, TMC is 3-2 all-time against the Cougars.
Should the Lady Mustangs emerge victorious from Saturday’s match, the squad will then advance to the NAIA National Championship final site in Sioux City, Iowa, Dec. 3 – 7.
For the two on-campus events, general admission tickets can be purchased at the door for $8.00, and $5.00 for students. NAIA passes will be honored, but only to the person whose name is on the pass. There will be no complimentary tickets or pass lists created for the events.
Not able to make it to any of this weekend’s competitions? The Master’s College Sports Information Office will broadcast the two NAIA home events live at $7.95 per match, and provide links to all other TMC-related competitions. Notably, live stats for the soccer and volleyball matches will be provided free of charge via DakStats.
All of Saturday’s, results, stats, and recaps can be found on The Master’s College Athletic Department webpage. Also, fans can follow all other Mustang-related news via the department’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram account, and YouTube Channel.