FRESNO, Calif. -- For the fourth straight year, Azusa Pacific athletes have swept the Golden State Athletic Conference cross country championships.
Senior Abednego Magut and sophomore Poppy Lawman captured the men’s and women’s individual crowns respectively, during the 25th Annual GSAC Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif.
Magut successfully defended his title of a year ago by clocking a 24:11, his personal-best on the Woodward course and the second-fastest time in GSAC Championship Meet history. Magut took control of the race and immediately ran out in front of the 89-athlete field, eventually beating John Gilbertson of The Master’s College by a healthy 23 seconds. Only former teammate Aaron Rono has run a faster 8K in GSAC history, registering a 23:57 in 2008.
The victory is Magut’s third straight this year and the seventh in his 3-year Azusa Pacific career.
Likewise, Lawman wins her third straight race this season, collecting her first-ever GSAC crown. She used a powerful kick over the final mile to move from fifth place and into the lead, and then pulled away from Biola’s Kelsey Gasner to win the race with a 17:31, 3 seconds ahead of Gasner.
Lawman becomes the sixth different Cougar to win the GSAC women’s title. A Cougar has won the GSAC women’s crown 7 of the past 9 years and 9 of the past 12.
As teams, the Cougars finished second in both the men’s and women’s competition. Biola won its first-ever GSAC cross country championship, beating Azusa Pacific for the women’s title by 1 point, 44 to 45.
The Cougars had an 11-point lead through the finishes of the first 4 runners, but Carissa Bowman capped Biola’s impressive 53-second gap between its 5 runners to allow the Eagles to nip Azusa Pacific at the line.
Azusa Pacific placed 4 runners on the All-GSAC team. Joining Lawman are junior Lauren Jimison, who finished third with a 17:36, senior Victoria Martinez, who was fifth with a 17:41, and freshman Melissa Telon, who finished tenth with an 18:16.
Senior Kayla Carstensen was the final scorer for Azusa Pacific, finishing 26th with a 19:05.
The Cougar men enhanced their chances of qualifying for the NAIA Championship Meet by recording a 2:07.16 as a team, their second-best performance ever at a GSAC meet.
While Magut led the way, it was junior Spencer Winston who broke the Cougars through the logjam of teams, running a 26:29 to finish as the fifth Cougar and 27th overall.
The Master’s College won the team crown, it’s first in GSAC cross country, with 58 points. Azusa Pacific was second with 67 and edged California Baptist University, which was third with 74, and Vanguard, which had defeated the Cougars earlier this year but finished fourth in the GSAC meet with 84 points.
Freshman Wade Meddles earned All-GSAC recognition along with senior J.J. Timphony, who finished third and tenth, respectively, with times of 24:37 and 25:31.
Sophomore Anthony Lacambra rounded out the Cougars’ scoring five with a 26:28 to finish just ahead of Winston.
By virtue of being ranked No. 3 in the NAIA, the Cougar women are expected to receive an at-large bid into the NAIA Cross Country Championships in 2 weeks in Fort Vancouver, Wash. They Cougar men are hopeful that today’s effort will secure an at-large spot as well.
The 32 men’s and 32 women’s teams for the NAIA championships will be announced by the NAIA national office on Sunday (Nov. 7).