LA MIRADA, Calif. – The NAIA’s No. 18-ranked Azusa Pacific nearly pulled off a major upset, but down the stretch, No. 5 Concordia rallied to nip the Cougars and win the 20th Annual Golden State Athletic Conference men’s cross country championship, Saturday at La Mirada Regional Park.
Led by 4-time All-GSAC honoree Danny Reid and super soph Caleb Lynch Azusa Pacific appeared it might headed toward its fourth straight GSAC crown. Reid blazed a 26:11 over the 8K course to finish third behind Vanguard’s Humberto Rojas (26:01) and Aaron Megazzi of Westmont (26:03). Lynch was right behind Reid to finish fourth at 26:23.
However, Concordia’s top 3 runners, Marco Venancio, Diego Rocha and Carlos Handler ran together and finished sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively, to set up a sprint to the finish for the conference crown between Concordia’s fourth and fifth runners and Cougars Christian Snyder and Tim Ramirez. Try as they might, Snyder (26:54) and Ramirez (26:56) couldn’t quite run down the Eagle runners, finishing less than 10 seconds behind them, allowing Concordia to capture its first-ever GSAC title. Nonetheless, Snyder and Ramirez join Reid and Lynch on the All-GSAC team.
Concordia finished with 45 points while the Cougars were close second at 51. Westmont was third with 73 points.
“The guys competed very well,” said Azusa Pacific coach Preston Grey. “I was very pleased. Danny and Caleb ran a very good race, and Christian and Tim laid it all out. We just came up a little short, but it was very good effort by the guys.”
As a team, the Cougars averaged a season-best 26:42 per man, a second better than their previous meet best at the Lakeshore Invitational in Chicago 3 weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the Cougar women, who are ranked No. 6 in the NAIA, saw their 4-year reign atop the GSAC come to end, finishing third with 94 points. No. 3-ranked Concordia took the women’s crown with 61 points, narrowly edging No. 5 Point Loma Nazarene by a point.
Azusa Pacific was the only team to put 2 runners in the top 6 with All-American Whitney Jacobsmeyer finishing fifth with an 18:59. Freshman Jaime Canterbury was sixth with a personal-best 19:14. Sophomore Janae Chapin followed nearly a minute behind with 20:04 to finish 16th.
“The girls started out well but didn’t quite pull it out,” added Grey. “Considering how young they are, they ran well and this experience will serve them in the future.”
Azusa Pacific takes next week off and returns to the course for the NAIA Region Championship Meet, Nov. 5, at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif.