The Golden State Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Cross Country seasons will begin in early September. The Master’s University men’s and women’s teams will look to defend their titles from 2021. The men’s team broke the GSAC consecutive championship record last year by winning their 12th straight title. This year’s conference championship will head up north to William Jessup University on Nov. 5.
Each of the conference teams will be previewed according to how they finished in a poll voted upon by the GSAC coaches.
Women’s Team Preview
TMU received all nine first place votes from the GSAC coaches making there be no doubt about who the team to beat will be this year. The Mustangs return two NAIA All-Americans which includes Hannah Fredricks who won the GSAC Individual Championship last season as a freshman. This team finished sixth at NAIA Nationals last year and should be a Top-10 contender yet again this season.
The Westmont Warriors came in right behind TMU receiving all nine second place votes. Westmont returns their top four runners from 2021 including Anneline Breytenbach who was an All-American and All-GSAC member last season. If the Warriors can add some depth in spots 5 – 7, they should be able to creep into being one of the top-15 teams in the nation. Westmont finished 2021 ranked 17th in the NAIA.
The Vanguard women hope to crack the top three of the GSAC as they embark on their 2022 journey. The Lions will be led by two sophomore returners (India Moors and Jessina Morales). After that, spots 3 – 5 could end up being a mix of newcomers and returners. Vanguard lost two talented seniors from last year’s team, so expect 2022 to be a bit of a rebuild for the Lions.
Arizona Christian has been slotted in the fourth spot by the conference coaches and the Firestorm will have some work to do in 2022. ACU lost five of their top six runners but have added four very talented transfers and freshmen. If the new faces in Glendale can live up to the hype, expect ACU to be faster as a team in 2022.
Jessup will run one of the most challenging schedules in 2022. The Warriors from Rocklin are very deep but have some quality speed up front which is led by Azalea Prince, a two time All-GSAC recipient. We would expect the hosts of the 2022 conference championship to finish inside the top five of the team standings.
Hope International will be led by All-GSAC runner Emma Timmermans. Last season, the freshmen placed fourth at the conference meet and qualified for NAIA Nationals. Right behind Timmermans should be the duo of Aurora Couto and Arlene Magana.
Rounding out the bottom third of the conference is Menlo College, OUAZ and San Diego Christian College. The Oaks will have a lot of new faces joining the program and need to replace the services of Naomy Lagat who was an All-American in Atherton. The Spirit finished a program-best 8th place last year and will look to carry that moment into 2022 as they return two of their top four runners. The Hawks will be led by sophomore Isabella Arias.
Men’s Team Preview
Just like their women’s team, The Master’s University men’s team has been unanimously selected to win the conference title. The Mustangs are vying for their 13th consecutive GSAC championship. Two time GSAC Champion, Davis Boggess, returns for his senior season. The Mustangs also return All-American Brint Laubach and two other All-GSAC runners. After finishing seventh at NAIA Nationals in 2021, TMU hopes to better that result this year.
The Westmont Warriors rank second by the GSAC coaches and return NAIA All-American, Zola Sokhela. After Sokhela, the Warriors also return their top three runners from a team that finished 23rd at Nationals. If the Warriors can strengthen the depth of their lineup, they should be a Top-15 contender in the NAIA.
The Vanguard Lions have been slotted third and return their top two runners from 2021. National qualifier, Justin Bartlebaugh, headlines the VU lineup and hopes to have another stellar season. In order for Vanguard to be successful in 2022, much like Westmont, the Lions will need strengthen the depth of the team. Expect Vanguard to finish in the top half of the conference.
The Menlo Oaks lost both of their All-GSAC runners and will look to Jacob Kipyego and Tristan Guerrero to lead the charge in 2022. Menlo has a slew of freshmen that should be able to step up and help contribute to the lineup right away. The Oaks have been picked fourth by the conference coaches.
Northern California rival Jessup, has been picked to finish right behind Menlo. The Warriors will have their deepest roster in the last four years which incorporates a strong group of returners mixed with very capable newcomers. Coach Magely hopes Jessup can finish in the top half of the conference at the championship meet in November.
The Arizona Christian Firestorm return four of their top five runners from 2021. ACU has added talented freshman Trevin Janssen to the mix giving the Firestorm a solid group of five runners. Arizona Christian will lack depth and be extremely young but the future is getting brighter in the desert.
Rounding out the conference is Hope International in seventh, OUAZ in eighth and San Diego Christian in ninth. The Royals area excited about their returners and newcomers and could finish much higher than their projections suggest. The Spirit return two of their four runners from last season and look to continue to build a foundation in Surprise. The Hawks will have a lot of new faces running around in 2022 and will round out all nine teams in the GSAC.
2022 Conference Championship
Jessup will host the 2022 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championship on their home course for the second time in three years. The beautiful on campus course was brought to life three years ago and is now one of the top tracks teams in the GSAC compete on. The conference championship will take place on Nov. 5 with the women running first at 9 a.m. followed by the men’s race at 10 a.m.