September 22, 2012
Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA – It was a historic day for The Master’s College, as TMC’s running program hosted their first home cross country meet in over a decade at Central Park in Santa Clarita, CA. The inaugural Mustang Challenge Cross Country Invitational was a tremendous success, thanks to overwhelming support from The Master’s College family, friends, the City of Santa Clarita, and the local community. An army of over 50 volunteers comprised of TMC administration, faculty, staff, alumni and students, along with the help of city employees and many local fans, worked together to put on what TMC hopes will be an annual event for years to come.
“The support we received from the TMC community and local fans was unlike anything I’ve ever seen for a collegiate cross country race. Our program is so blessed to have the kind of support we saw today,” said Coach Schroeder. “It’s been a dream of mine and my wife’s to host a meet since I began coaching at the college. It was an incredible blessing to see that dream come to fruition today. The number of volunteer participation speaks volumes of the humility and willingness to serve that characterizes the TMC community. We even had other TMC athletic teams out helping work the race, including the entire women’s basketball team, and six or seven guys from men’s baseball. Our prayer was that the Lord Jesus would be honored by our meet… The way the campus rallied together for this event was truly a testimony of the love of Christ being practically lived out.”
It was fairly warm and humid when the gun went off at the start of the men’s 8000m race, with the temperature registering around 80 degrees, making conditions somewhat challenging. Six of the 10 teams in attendance were GSAC member schools, with Loyola Marymount University, University of La Verne, College of the Canyons, and former GSAC member, Fresno Pacific, rounding out the field.
The Master’s College men’s squad has never displayed such dominance over a field of competition as they did today. Handedly winning the meet, the Mustang men placed five runners in the top 12 and defeated the next closest team by over three minutes in team time.
Taking the lead from the first moments of the race, TMC’s John Gilbertson separated himself from the entire field of competition within the first half mile. Running solo all the way to the finish line, Gilbertson cruised to a comfortable victory for the second race in a row with a time of 25:06. Having won the UC Irvine Invitational 2 weeks ago and the Mustang Challenge today, Gilbertson is looking to put together a strong showing at the prestigious Stanford Invitational next weekend where he hopes to claim a third win for the season.
Finishing second for TMC and second overall was Anthony Pizzo in 25:53, followed by teammate John Hurd who finished sixth overall in a time of 26:27. “This was an outstanding race for John. Today is his birthday and this is how he wanted to celebrate,” Schroeder laughed. “John’s been a little injured and this was his first race back. He came out planning to run big and that’s what he did.”
Just seconds back from Hurd was teammate Eller, finishing 9th overall in 26:32, followed by Camden McAlister in 26:44 (12th). The Mustangs’ #1-5 were separated by one minute and thirty-eight seconds; this the best 1-5 split seen by the Mustangs in quite some time. “Obviously, Gilbertson was way out in front of the entire field. What excited me most about today was to see such a tight pack from our #2-7. This makes us look very good on the national scene. If we can continue to have those guys move forward together as a pack, I believe we have a great chance of getting on the podium at the end of the year.”
Look for the Mustangs to continue their stampede in Palo Alto, CA on September 29th at the Stanford Cross Country Invitational, where the squad will go head to head with NAIA #1 ranked Southern Oregon.
On behalf of the Mustangs, a warm thank you to all TMC administration, faculty, staff, alumni and students, as well as local supporters for making the inaugural running of the Mustang Challenge a spectacular event.