LOUISVILLE, Ky. –- In near perfect conditions Caleb Lynch and Tim Ramirez ran lifetime bests to lead the No. 7-ranked Azusa Pacific to a fifth-place finish at the NAIA Cross Country Championship meet at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville.
The Cougars, who registered their second-straight fifth-place effort at the NAIA meet and their fourth straight Top-10 showing, finished with 222 points, narrowly being edged out for fourth place by Oklahoma Baptist which tallied 221 points. Virginia Intermont won its second straight national championship.
“We were agonizingly close to being on the podium with a fourth-place finish,” said Cougar coach Preston Grey. “Actually, the guys really ran well. Nearly every guy ran a season best. I could not ask for more from them.
Running under sunny skies and 45-degree weather, Lynch, a sophomore out of Phoenix, Ariz., clocked a dazzling 25:30 over the 8K course, matching his previous best which he first ran on a much easier Riverside course last year. He finished 40th out of 261 runners. The senior Ramirez, who steadily has gotten stronger over the course of the season after opening the campaign with an injury, was just 2 seconds behind Lynch with a 25:32 to finish 43rd.
Junior Peter Sherman followed with another season best of 25:48 to finish 66th. Four-time All-GSAC honoree Danny Reid ran a 25:54 to come in 74th.
“We ran better this year on this course than we did last year,” said Grey. “Our team time was much better.”
The Cougar women, who were making their 12th straight NAIA Championship Meet appearance, finished 18th out of 28 teams with 429 points, and like their male counterparts, just one point separated them from the next place.
Junior Whitney Jacobsmeyer ran an 18:20 5K to finish 25th and capture her second NAIA All-American honor. She joins former Cougar greats Brianna Carstensen and Christine Krause as the only runners in program history to garner at least 2 All-America honors in cross country.
Sophomore Olivia Richert, who struggled to find her strength throughout most of the season, closed out the 2005 campaign on an outstanding note with a 19:16 with to finish 92nd out of 259 runners.
“We’re a young team on the women’s side,” added Grey, “so this was truly and great experience for our ladies.”