CHICAGO, Ill. – Cast against some of best collegiate distance programs in the Midwest, the NAIA’s No. 10-ranked Azusa Pacific women’s cross country team ran like the Chicago wind was to its back as the Cougars shined among non-NCAA Division I teams at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational in Chicago.
The Cougars finished 18th out of a 28-team field that featured 18 Division I programs. In the process, Azusa Pacific edged the NAIA’s No. 3-ranked Malone.
“It was fantastic effort by the ladies,” said Azusa Pacific distance coach Preston Grey. “We ran with Malone throughout the race and then beat them head-to-head over the final 800 meters. Our No. 1 beat their No. 1. Our No. 2 beat their No. 2, and so on and so forth for all our runners. I think we had 4 PRs.”
Indeed the Cougars did stack up the personal records. NAIA All-American Whitney Jacobsmeyer led Azusa Pacific with a season-best 18:22, just 11 seconds off her career best, to finish 24th out of 274 runners. She was the top performer among all NAIA competitors. Freshman Jaime Canterbury run a personal-best 19:18 to come in 86th, while sophomore Janie Chapin was 107th with a personal-record of 19:31, more than 25 seconds better than her previous best. Freshman Mary Labbee narrowly missed her first-ever sub-20 race, clocking a 20:01 to come in 151st.
Marquette won the women’s team title with 54 points while NCAA Division II power Grand Valley State (Mich.) was second with 73 points. The Cougars had 486 counters.
Meanwhile, the Cougar men, who expected to justify their No. 7 ranking in the latest NAIA poll, struggled through a combination of illness and injury to finish a disappointing 20th out of 28 schools and well behind the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Malone.
Senior Danny Reid was strong in his first 8K of the season, clocking a 25:50 to finish 54th out of 270 runners, while junior Peter Sherman was 115th with a 26:30, the third fastest 8K of his career.
Meet host Loyola University won the men’s team competition with 81 points. Eastern Michigan was second with 98 points while the Cougars registered 502 points.
Azusa Pacific takes 3 weeks off now to prepare for defense of its twin GSAC titles at the conference championship meet at La Mirada (Calif.) Regional Park, Oct. 22.