The Azusa Pacific nationally-ranked men’s and women’s cross country programs opened the 2003 season today with some rather notable individual and team performances at the Cal State Fullerton “Season Opener” staged at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, Calif.
The men’s overall effort and finishes by Cougars Brianna Carstensen (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and All-American Christine Krause (Garden Grove, Calif./Pacifica HS) put a rather large smile on the face of fourth-year Cougar coach Bill Reeves.
Running with its largest contingent of members in over 6 years, the Cougar men finished second with 91 points, trailing only meet host Cal State Fullerton which tallied 52.
Sophomore Danny Reid (Glendora, Calif./Glendora HS) fashioned his best showing ever, finishing 14th out of 146 runners. In clocking a 25:58, his first-ever sub-26 on an 8K course, Reid paced the Cougars for the first time ever in his brief collegiate career.
“He’s a very talented runner,” said Reeves. “He just needs to believe that he can do it.”
The time and the finish are rather surprising in light of the fact that Reid had been running fourth or fifth on the team throughout most of the summer and into training camp 2 weeks ago.
All-American Tim Ramirez (Simi Valley, Calif./Royal HS, who ran with Reid throughout much of the race, finished 19th with a 26:07, while freshman Peter Franz was impressive in his collegiate debut, running a 26:10 to come in 20th place.
Senior Chris Ramirez (Simi Valley, Calif./Royal HS), Tim’s older brother who is running for the first time after a 2-year layoff, clocked a 26:20, good enough for 25th, while sophomore Kevin Lindsey (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks HS) rounded out the Cougars’ team scoring with a 26:24 to finish 28th.
“It was nice to have full men’s team,” said Reeves. “They guys were saying beforehand that it was great to warm up with so many teammates. This is the best finish they’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The Cougars, who are ranked No. 10 in the NAIA Preseason Poll, were not at full strength. All-GSAC junior Tim Gachago Covina, Calif./South Hills HS was running with a slightly strained muscle and recorded a 26:34 to finish 34th.
“We had 6 guys under 26:30, and that would put us on the podium at the NAIA national meet,” added Reeves.
Carstensen, the reigning GSAC champion, won the women’s individual race with a mid-season-like time of 18:21. She grabbed the early lead and held off all challengers the entire 5K race, winning by 5 seconds over her nearest competitor for the fourth individual victory of her collegiate career. Carstensen’s time is the second best of her career, just 12 seconds off her career-best 18:09 she recorded in winning last year’s NAIA regional crown, and it’s 4 seconds better than her GSAC winning time of last year.
“She always has a chance to win any race she is running,” responded Reeves when asked if he was somewhat surprise by her showing.
Krause was no slouch either in the season debut, finishing eighth with an 18:52, nearly 50 seconds better than her season-opening time for last year’s All-American campaign.
“Brianna and Christine really ran well,” said Reeves.
However, the fifth-ranked Cougars were without the services of junior Marissa Reeber, who is returning to school today after spending the summer in Germany. As a result, GSAC rivals Concordia (fourth) and Biola (fifth) finished ahead of Azusa Pacific, which as a team was eighth out of 14 teams.
“She certainly would have helped us,” said Reeves. “We definitely missed her.”
Senior Lisette Saucedo (South El Monte, Calif./South El Monte HS) tried to pick up the slack with a 20:11 to come in 51st. Juniors Kim Davids (20:25) and Nicole Rosencrantz (20:50) rounded out the Cougars’ top 5 by finishing 59th and 81st overall.
Azusa Pacific takes 2 weeks off and returns to the courses on Sat. Sep. 20 when the Cougars compete in the Riverside Invitational on the campus of UC Riverside.