FRESNO, Calif. -- For the second time ever, Azusa Pacific has been crowned champion GSAC Cross Country in both men's and women's divisions after sweeping championships today at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif. In taking both titles today, the Cougars joins Westmont as the only other school to sweep the GSAC men's and women's championships in 2 different seasons. Azusa Pacific swept the GSAC championships in 1994 as well (Westmont swept the 1987 and 1997 titles).
Moreover, Azusa Pacific nearly pulled off the unthinkable, winning not only both team titles but sweeping the individual performances as well. The Cougar women, who have now won back-to-back conference championships and their third in program history, were paced by sophomore Brianna Carstensen and junior Christine Krause, who finished first and second overall to lead Azusa Pacific to the narrowest of victories in GSAC history. Azusa Pacific edged Concordia, 42-44, thanks to 1-2 finish by Carstensen and Krause. Otherwise Concordia beat Azusa Pacific, 36-39, from runners three through five. Carstensen clocked an 18:25 on the 5K course to become the third Cougar in the past 4 seasons to win the GSAC women's individual crown (Chrystall DeNaeyer won it in 1999 and Latesha Jones won the 2000 title). Krause followed with an 18:32, beating Concordia' top runner Heather Shurtleff by 7 seconds in what proved to be the difference in Azusa Pacific winning the team title.
The Azusa Pacific men returned to the championship stand for the first time since its 4-year title run ended in 1996. The Cougars downed second-place Point Loma Nazarene, 50-62, to claim its fifth GSAC championship in the conference's 17-year history. Senior All-American Brian Wardell finished second individually with a 25:20 on the 8K course. Wardell was 23 seconds off giving Azusa Pacific the 4-way sweep of the team and individual championships. Westmont's Jason Finch won the men's title with a 24:57. As for other Cougars, sophomore Tim Gachago was fourth with a 26:11 while Danny Reid topped all freshman and was 10th overall with his 26:30.
The Cougars will sit back and enjoy the championships this week before returning to Woodward Park in 2 weeks for the NAIA regional championship meet.