Master’s cross country coach Zach Schroeder likes to map out his fall race schedule months before his runners arrive on campus.
“We always know well in advance what we’re planning on doing,” Schroeder said. “… But there’s always the possibility of a schedule change.”
It’s true: Some things are hard, even impossible, to plan for.
Schroeder, for instance, couldn’t have known at the time that when he registered his men’s and women’s teams for the The Mustang men, ranked No. 14 in the NAIA and racing without two of their top runners, finished fourth – in Rocklin, he was essentially scheduling a championship rehearsal.
But this week, the Golden State Athletic Conference moved its championship race from Orange County to Rocklin due to fire damage at Irvine Regional Park.
So, when the Mustangs stepped on the course at Johnson-Springview Park on Saturday, they ran the same route they’ll run Nov. 4, only then with more on the line.
Saturday’s field hardly lacked talent, however.
The No. 8-ranked Mustang women finished third out of seven teams, coming in behind No. 4 College of Idaho and No. 11 Oregon Tech.
Master’s beat No. 5 Southern Oregon.
“Our girls raced fantastic,” Schroeder said.
The Mustang men, ranked No. 14 in the NAIA and racing without two of their top runners, finished fourth – trailing No. 1 Southern Oregon, No. 4 College of Idaho and, most importantly, No. 17 Westmont.
“We’re disappointed Westmont beat us,” said Schroeder, whose squad beat its GSAC rival on Sept. 30 at the Mustangs’ home meet. “But we’re fired up to face them again in two weeks with a healthy team.”
Skyler Mikesell was the first Mustang to finish, coming in sixth individually with a time of 25 minutes, .8 seconds. Joshua Nunez was next, posting a 26th-place finish with a time of 25:39.4.
Abigail Frankian led the Master’s women. The senior came in fifth with a 17:43.8, roughly 12 seconds ahead of teammate Mikala Fairchild, who was eighth.
Schroeder, for his part, was most excited about his third through fifth finishers: Rachelle Nelson (18:15.8), Rylee Bishop (18:47.8) and Ariana Sciarra (19:10.9), who each ran lifetime bests.
“Having a strong 3-5 is really going to help us contend well at nationals,” Schroeder said.