By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Freshman Arianna Ghiorso introduced herself to TMU’s fan base in the fall by finishing in the top three at conference finals and advancing to NAIA cross country nationals.
As it turns out, that was only the half of it.
Ghiorso hit the NAIA’s “B” qualifying standard in her first 1,500-meter race Saturday at the Occidental Distance Carnival, finishing in 4 minutes, 40.52 seconds.
The time represented a new program record for a freshman’s debut in the event, and it was only one of several highlights from the Los Angeles meet.
TMU’s Wesley Methum and Stephen Pacheco each hit the NAIA “B” standard in the 5,000 meters, likely booking a trip for the duo to Gulf Shores, Alabama, in May.
Every men’s team and women’s team can send three athletes that hit the “B” standard to nationals as right-of-membership entries. Anyone who hits the “A” standard automatically qualifies.
For Pacheco, it would be a return to the national stage in the 5K, as he qualified last season.
Methum finished first of the two on Saturday, however, recording a time of 14:52.65.
Pacheco’s time was 14:54.49. Both athletes beat their personal bests, which was a theme on Saturday.
Keylan Meneses ran the best 800 mark of his Mustang career (1:58.99). Morgan Gregory and Autumn Nootbaar both ran lifetime bests in the 5K.
Emily Hess matched her lifetime best in the 100, and Cameron Fooks barely missed doing the same in the 800.
Sophomore Seanna Nalbandyan, who earned All-American honors in the 400 hurdles last season, was just off her lifetime best in the open 400 (58.46 Saturday), which coach Zach Schroeder believes is a good sign.
“It’s a great indicator that she’s ready to qualify in the 400 hurdles next weekend,” he said.
The Mustangs will be competing at the Ross & Sharon Irwin Collegiate Scoring Meet in San Diego on March 16. They will look to build on all of Saturday’s positives.
“What a great day,” Schroeder said. “This team works very hard, and today was just a display of their daily commitment to excellence. Their character and work ethic are why I so love coaching this team.”
Another highlight Saturday was freshman Isaac Ventura‘s performance in his first 800. He went under two minutes, a stellar mark for a first-year athlete. He finished second in his heat.
Kevin Pacheco ran 1:55 in the 800, over two seconds faster than his time a year ago.
“If Kevin keeps working hard, he has a chance to qualify for nationals,” Schroeder said.
It appears he’s not the only one.