VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Azusa Pacific placed 3 runners on the NAIA All-America team and finished sixth at the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Championship Meet at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Saturday morning.
Junior Lauren Jimison ran an outstanding race, perhaps the finest of her career, in less than desirable conditions and finished fifth overall (second among team scorers) with a 17:53 on the 5K course. Last year, she clocked an 18:20 on the same course to finish seventh.
The unquestioned leader of the team, Jimison nonetheless has been the Cougars’ lead runner in just one meet this season – the Roy Griak Invitational at Minnesota – but she was a consistent top-5 finisher, and was so again today. She becomes just the fifth Cougar in program history to post a Top 5 finish in the NAIA meet.
Following closely in Jimison’s footsteps, senior Victoria Martinez ran the best race of her life as well, finishing 13th to register her first-ever All-America effort in her final race as a Cougar. Martinez ran an 18:17.
Sophomore Poppy Lawman capped a marvelous campaign with her first-ever All-America honor, finishing 26th out of the 331-runner field with an 18:30.
For the third time since the program’s inception in 1980, Azusa Pacific has 3 All-Americans on one team, joining the 2003 and 2008 squads with the same accomplishment.
Azusa Pacific was in the lead through 3 runners and still in second when freshman Melissa Telon crossed the finish line with a 19:09. However, Cal State San Marcos managed an impressive 29-second gap between its top 5 runners to finish with 88 points and easily pull away for its second straight NAIA crown.
GSAC champion Biola used a 52-second gap to finish second with 127 points. Black Hills State was third with 151 points, followed by Malone at 164 and Simon Fraser with 177. The Cougars, whose 5-runner gap was 2 minutes, 6 seconds, tallied 209 points.
In the men’s national championship meet, Cougar senior Abednego Magut put the icing on a fabulous 4-year college career with his fourth NAIA All-America honor, finishing second in the 326-man field with a 24:41 on the 8K course. Magut held off Paul Chelimo of Shorter College, beating him by 3 seconds. Kennedy Kithuka of Wayland Baptist won the individual title with 24:02.
Freshman Wade Meddles put a ribbon on a great rookie season by collecting All-America recognition, only the second ever attained by a Cougar freshman (Danny Lee in 1998). Meddles ran a 25:41.
As a team, Azusa Pacific finished 21st out of 32 teams with 465 points. Southern Oregon won its first NAIA championship, scoring a meet low 105.