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Leaders of the Pack

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Published
November 9, 2003
By
Gary Pine
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FRESNO, Calif. -- All-American junior Brianna Carstensen did so much more than just successfully defend her NAIA Region 2 individual title. She did what no Cougar has ever done.

In leading the Azusa Pacific women’s cross country team to the 2003 region 2 crown at Woodward Park, Carstensen ran a career-best 17:41, her first-ever sub-18 5K run, and in the process won for the fifth time in as many meets this season. In fact, dating back to last year, Carstensen has now won 8 of her past 9 races, but none may have been satisfying as this one.

Carstensen’s effort, along with teammates and fellow all-region honorees Christine Krause and Marissa Reeber, led Azusa Pacific to an upset of the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Cal State San Marcos, winning the region meet, 54-56. With the team victory, Azusa Pacific automatically qualifies for the NAIA Championship Meet (Nov. 22) in Louisville, Ky.

Like Carstensen, both Krause and Reeber picked a fine time to run career-best 5Ks. Krause ran an 18:23 and Reeber was 10 seconds behind at 18:33 to finish fourth and fifth respectively. It was key that Azusa Pacific place 3 runners in the top 5 to overcome a powerful Cal State San Marcos team that placed 4 runners among the top 16 finishers.

Juniors Kimberly Davids and Lisette Saucedo finished off Cal State San Marcos with career bests as well, clocking a 19:13 and a 19:27 to finish 20th and 24th, respectively. As a team, Azusa Pacific averaged an outstanding 18:40 over the 5000 meters.

Meanwhile, the Cougar men finished second to Cal State San Marcos, yet will still advance to the NAIA Championship Meet with an at-large bid.

Junior Tim Gachago led the Cougar quintet with a 25:53 to finish 14th and earn all-region honors. Junior Peter Franz was 16th (25:54), sophomore Danny Reid was 19th (26:05) and senior Chris Ramirez was 24th (26:19).