The Master’s University cross country teams began their season Saturday morning with a record-breaking performance at the Mark Covert Invitational hosted by Cal State-Fullerton at Carbon Canyon Park in Brea, Calif.
The No. 4 ranked men took fourth place against many top NCAA teams and were led by their 5th-year senior captain, Daniel Rush, who placed 10th with a time of 24:51 over the 8000m distance.
“Our aim is to love Christ and reflect Him to other teams through our love for one another,” Rush said. “I saw my teammates praising the Lord for good or bad races, which is such an encouragement! This is easily the best opener the team has ever had.”
Fellow 5th-year senior Brint Laubach followed him in 12th (24:55), and sophomore Jack Anderson (25:10) continued to build on a breakout 2023 track season to finish 21st with a 48-second personal best. Jake Fredericks (25:12) nearly took down Anthony Pizzo’s freshman record of 25:11 from 2009, and All-American senior Zach Garey rounded out the scoring with a time of 25:21.
This group of Mustangs put together a total team time of 2:05:37, which broke the team course record by over two minutes. It was five minutes faster than last year’s opener, and TMU also recorded the closest five-man spread of any team in the field, with only 30 seconds separating the first and fifth runners.
Other notable performances on the men’s side included Tim Anderson (26:28) and Joel Schluessler who ran personal bests of 16 and 22 seconds, respectively. Freshman Isaiah Fastrup kicked to a top-50 finish and a time of 25:47 in his first-ever 8000m race.
The women placed 6th in a competitive 5000m field and were led by their captain, Hannah Fredericks, who finished 4th in 17:36.
“I could not have asked for a better first race of the season for the women’s team. Our main goal for today was to go out and abide in Christ,” Fredericks said. “Each of the girls who raced and those who were cheering embodied this goal and competed hard for the Lord.”
The ladies also added two top-30 finishers, with All-Americans Ellen Palmgren (18:44) and Suzie Johnson (18:47) finishing 27th and 29th, respectively. Alyssa Lovett (19:52) and Megan Turner (20:19) completed the top five for the No. 4 ranked Mustangs.
After starting conservatively, the Mustangs moved up well in the last mile, with sophomores Emma Nelson and Rebekah Niednagel each passing twelve runners in the final mile.
“I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for the rest of the season and the opportunities we get to glorify him through our sport,” Fredericks said.
The Mustangs will race next at the Biola XC Invitational on Sep. 8th at Ted Craig Regional Park in Fullerton, Calif.