BIOLA INVITATIONAL 10/23/10
The BIOLA Cross Country Invitational, hosted at Irvine Regional Park in Irvine, CA, proved to be another step in the right direction for the Mustangs. Today, Hannah Kellerman and Hayley Parkinson demonstrated themselves capable of chasing down individual births to the NAIA Cross Country National Championship, scheduled to take place November 20th in Vancouver, WA. In order to qualify for nationals as an individual, an athlete must finish 15th or better at their Conference Championship meet, as well as be one of the top 5 finishers not on a national qualifying team.
Going into the day's competition, Kellerman and Parkinson knew the BIOLA Invite would serve as an indicator of whether or not they could be in contention for finishing their regular season as National qualifiers. The Golden State Athletic Conference, to which Master's belongs, is the most competitive women's conference at the national level. Currently, the GSAC boasts three top 10 women's programs and one more women's team in the top 30. Finishing among the top 15 as an individual at the GSAC Championship, and thereby securing an individual birth to the national meet, is incredibly challenging, to say the least. Historically, the top 15 female individuals from the GSAC finish among or near the top 30 finishers at the NAIA National Championship (claiming All American status). Although the competition changes from year to year, this season, looks to be no different.
At the BIOLA Invitational, the task for Kellerman and Parkinson was to finish the 5k race within striking distance of Westmont College's #1, Chrissa Trudelle. According to how teams and individuals are most likely to perform at the Conference meet, just two weeks away, Westmont's Trudelle appears to be the marker for a top 15 spot. This morning, coming back down from the height of this season's training, Kellerman and Parkinson looked fitter and fresher than ever. Kellerman ran a very tough race, finishing the hilly course with a time of 18:39, just 4 seconds behind Trudelle; Parkinson came through the finish just 9 seconds later in 18:48. As Kellerman and Parkinson peak for Conference in two weeks, their times should continue to drop. November 6th is going to be an exciting day for the Lady Mustangs, as the squad looks to send their first individual representatives to Nationals since 2005. Amy Hawkins (formerly Rice) qualified in 2005, and remains the only female cross country athlete to ever qualify for the national meet from The Master's College.
Sarah Pattison had a break out race today, running a personal best of 19:26, 18 seconds faster than her performance at Riverside. This is incredible progression from the sophomore, as Riverside is typically a much faster course than BIOLA.
On the men's side, the stage has been set for a battle for the GSAC Championship Title. Just two weeks ago, Vanguard upset then #6 ranked TMC at the Vanguard Invitational; TMC has since dropped to 19th in the national poll. In an unprecedented move, Coach Bryan Wilkins of Vanguard University pulled his men's squad out of the BIOLA Invitational, a decision made a week ahead of the competition. Vanguard absent, the task at hand was to put current #6 ranked Cal State San Marcos away and reclaim a top 10 position nationally. San Marcos, though defeated by TMC twice earlier in the year, has proven they are a much stronger team than they were at the beginning of the season. Also present was #22 Simon Fraser, traveling all the way from Canada in hopes of improving their position in the rankings.
The finish of the race was a beautiful sight for Mustang fans, as John Gilbertson, Jeff Jackson, and Anthony Pizzo came across the finish line #1, #2, #3. Taking the race out after mile 2, Jeff Jackson led all the way to the end, followed closely by Gilbertson and Pizzo. Gilbertson and Jackson would finish together, both posting times of 24:54, with Pizzo coming across the line in 24:59. The course record is 24:43; to put three athletes within seconds of the course record in a single meet is quite outstanding. "Jeff Jackson simply controlled the race today, and Gilbertson and Pizzo have the tenacity to stick Jeff, as well as both having tremendous closing speed. They work together all week long in practice, and that's what we saw happen today. Of the three, it could go in any order on any given day, that's what makes these three guys so dangerous," said Coach Schroeder.
In spite of their one, two, three finish, they key to the Mustangs' success continues to be the position of their 4th and 5th runners. Today, Josiah Downer and Nathan Seyler filled the rolls of #4 and #5 for the TMC squad, finishing 26th and 36th overall, with times of 26:26 and 26:58 respectively. Although the Mustang's had good performances by Downer and Seyler, San Marcos still managed to win the meet, with TMC finishing a close 2nd. However, Master's posted a faster team time of 128:13, with CSSMU running a team time of 128:39. Posting a better team time than #6 San Marcos should bode well for the Mustang men in the polls this week. Unfortunately, without the presence of Vanguard at the BIOLA Invitational, it is unlikely TMC will be able to move above VU in the ratings.
Confident his 4-7 can still run much better than they have thus far, Coach Schroeder anticipates an exciting race from his men at the GSAC Championship at Woodward Park in Fresno, CA, November 6th. Get ready for a thrilling end to the regular season as the men look to win their 1st Conference Title and move on to nationals, and the women chase down two individual births to the National Championship.
To view full results click here.