HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific’s nationally-ranked men’s and women’s cross country teams opened the 2005 season today with sound showings at the UC Irvine Invitational at Central Park in Huntington Beach.
The Cougar women, who are ranked No. 7 in the NAIA, finished seventh out of 17 collegiate teams while the men, who were competing without 2 of their top 5 runners, still posted an eighth-placing showing out of 12 teams.
“All in all, it was a sold effort,” said first-year Cougar coach Preston Grey. “It wasn’t spectacular, but it was promising and gave us something to build on.”
All-American Whitney Jacobsmeyer led the Cougar women by running a 19:17 5K to finish 26th out of 179 runners. A year ago, the junior from Martinez, Calif., clocked a 19:19 at this same meet.
Freshman Jaime Canterbury, an outstanding newcomer out of state prep power Dana Hills High, clocked a 19;35, finishing 36th with the best time ever by a Cougar freshman in this meet. Fellow former Dolphin Janae Chapin was Azusa Pacific’s third runner, logging a personal-best 19:59 to finish 49th overall.
Running for the first time in 4 years without former Cougar great Brianna Carstensen, Azusa Pacific still was impressive. The Cougars’ 1 through 4 runners showed better than last year’s 2 through 5 (Carstensen won last year’s UCI Invitational).
“This is a really young women’s team so this is a good ‘welcome to college’ meet,” said Grey.
The men’s race mistakenly fell a 1000 meters short of the mapped out 8K when the pace bike took a wrong turn, thus the entire field ran a 7K instead. As expected, All-GSAC senior Danny Reid led the No. 4-ranked Cougar contingent with a 23:23 to finish 17th out of 132 runners. Junior Peter Sherman was 33rd with a 23:48 while sophomore Caleb Lynch checked in at 40th with a 23:55.
The Cougars were without track & field All-Americans Kevin Lindsey and Tim Ramirez, a pair of seniors who did run because of mild injuries. They are expected to be back for the Stanford Invitational.
“We were definitely shorthanded but it was a good effort,” said Grey. “The 6-7-8 guys stepped up, raced well and gave us some depth.”
Chico State, an NCAA Division II national power, won both the men’s and women’s team competitions.
Azusa Pacific returns to the course Saturday (Sept. 24) when the Cougars compete in the prestigious Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.