NOVATO, Calif. -- Led by a trio that placed second, third, and fourth individually, Azusa Pacific's women's cross country team won its second consecutive Pacific West Conference championship Saturday, defending its title by an 11-point margin over runner-up Hawai`i Pacific, which was led by individual champion Fiona McKenna.
Junior Kristie Sikma was the individual runner-up, finishing 27 seconds behind McKenna with a personal-best 5k time of 17:43.8, and she was followed by senior Sarah Higgens and sophomore Reika Kijima in third and fourth place, respectively. Higgens was just five seconds off her personal-best, crossing the finish in 17:51.4 to edge ahead of Kijima, whose time of 17:52.1 puts her at 12th on Azusa Pacific's all-time performance list.
In addition to Sikma, Higgens, and Kijima, who all claimed All-PacWest first team honors, the Cougars produced three other All-PacWest performers. Freshman Kylie Betts and junior Elizabeth Lyons earned second team all-conference recognition, finishing 12th and 13th to round out the Cougars' top-five for the team score, and junior Elle Farrar picked up All-PacWest third team honors by placing 18th with a time of 18:41.1.
Betts finished 12th with a time of 18:29.8, and Lyons was just two seconds back, finishing 13th overall in 18:31.8. Both performances put them into the top-30 of Azusa Pacific's all-time list.
Led by a second consecutive All-PacWest first team effort from junior Peter Buscheck, the Cougars finished third in the men's championship race behind repeat PacWest champion California Baptist and runner-up Hawai`i Pacific, which edged Azusa Pacific by just eight points for the second-place finish.
Buscheck finished seventh overall, running a 26:59.0, and he was joined in the top 10 of the individual results by sophomore Ryan Phillips, who posted a time of 27:26.2 to finish in 10th place. Phillips and fellow sophomore Aaron Potts earned all-conference second team honors, as Potts registered 27:41.4 to finish 14th overall, and freshman Kyle Bueckert earned third-team recognition for finishing 17th overall with a time of 27:44.2.
Junior Devin Pierce rounded out the top-five for the Cougars, finishing just 10 seconds out of the top-30 with a time of 28:35.4 that was good for 36th overall.
Azusa Pacific wraps up the 2013 season with a trip to Cedarville, Ohio, to compete at the National Christian College Athletic Association Cross Country National Championship meet on Nov. 16.