2010 GSAC CHAMPIONSHIP
In the history of TMC's membership in the Golden State Athletic Conference, only two teams have brought home Conference Championship Titles for The Master's College- Men's Soccer (2009), and Men's Baseball (2003). Arguably the strongest conference in the nation in the NAIA, the GSAC is an incredibly challenging conference to win. The GSAC regularly produces national championship titles sport-wide; competing well within the GSAC indicates a team is among the best in the nation. This year was no different for Men's Cross Country, with four GSAC teams finishing in the top 25 of the national poll, the largest representation from any conference in the nation. On Saturday, November 6th, however, the Mustang Men's Cross Country Team was able to rise above their competition and earned The Master's College its third Conference Championship Title, in what proved to be the toughest competition GSAC Cross County has seen in many years.
Saturday morning at Woodward Park in Fresno, CA, The Master's College Men's Cross Country Team went to war. Going into the championship meet, the Mustangs knew it was going to be a battle to the finish, a battle they had been preparing all season long to win. Cheered on by over 70 fans all wearing navy blue tie dye t-shirts in support of their team, the men's squad raced to victory, finishing the task they'd purposed to accomplish months ago, their 1st Conference Championship Title.
The race went out hard, with TMC's top three leading the charge. John Gilbertson, Anthony Pizzo, and Jeff Jackson came through the mile in 4:45, along with Azusa Pacific's Abednego Magut and Wade Meddles. The threesome stayed with the front of the pack throughout the race and finished 2nd, 5th and 6th with times of 24:32, 24:41 and 24:50 respectively in a phenomenal display of running in a very tough race.
With these three men consistently running under 25 minutes, TMC has been a dominant force all season. However, it was the performances of TMC's 4th and 5th men that would secure the victory for the Mustangs. Nathan Seyler stepped up, finishing the race in 26:14, followed by Josiah Downer (26:24). The Mustang men posted a team time of 1:26:55, a faster time than the 2008 Azusa Pacific team that finished 2nd at the National Championships. Matthew Crichton and David Eller finished 6th and 7th for the team and will join the Mustang's top 5 as they travel to Vancouver, WA to chase down a top finish at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships.
In addition to the team championship the Mustangs added a slew of individual awards as well. With all of the top fourteen runners earning all-conference, Gilbertson, Jackson and Pizzo each were named to the All GSAC team . In addition, Coach Zach Schroeder was recognized as the GSAC's coach of the year. Schroeder has proven his worth over the last few years as the Cross Country and Track program at TMC has quickly risen to prominence nationally under his guidance. Since Coach Schroeder began coaching in 2005, Master's has not failed to send a representative to the NAIA National Championships in both Cross Country and Track. Other than men's and women's basketball, no other teams from the college have claimed as many NAIA national births.
The Mustangs are eager to now set their sights on the National meet. The NAIA's big showdown will be a great test as among the competition the Master's men will see in Vancouver, is Kenyan bronze medalist Kennedy Kithuka of Wayland Baptist, as well as many other foreign world caliber athletes.