By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
TMU coach Zach Schroeder has said for weeks that this week’s track meet in Azusa, California, would be crucial as far as Mustangs advancing to NAIA nationals. This was the place – or at least as optimal a place and time as any – for TMU to make the leap.
Stephen Pacheco and Abigail Frankian made good on their coach’s words Thursday, each hitting NAIA consideration times at the Bryan Clay Invitational at Cougar Stadium on the campus of Azusa Pacific.
Schroeder tabbed Pacheco early in the year as a front-runner to represent the Mustangs at nationals. Thursday, the junior from Palmdale, California, ran the 5,000 meters in 14 minutes, 56.42 seconds. It was a PR.
Frankian, a senior, also qualified in the 5,000 (17:47.64), setting up her fourth trip to nationals and making her the second Lady Mustang to qualify this season.
Freshman Seanna Nalbandyan hit an auto time in the 400 hurdles earlier in the year. Nalbandyan’s time (1:01.81) is the third fastest in the NAIA this year.
Frankian, for her part, has seen success on the national stage. She finished 11th, just outside of earning an All-American spot, in the 5,000 at nationals in 2017. She set TMU’s program record in the 3,000 steeplechase at NAIA prelims in 2016.
Thursday was not without adversity.
Freshman Wes Methum missed qualifying for nationals by .65. He ran the 5,000 in 14:59.65, but he “raced really well.”
“Huge PR,” Schroeder said. “Such great racing from a freshman.”
The Mustangs were set to resume completion at Bryan Clay on Friday.