The Azusa Pacific cross country teams finished off the regular season well with a 12th place finish for the men and a 14th place finish for the women at the Capital Cross Challenge in Sacramento, Calif., this weekend.
Senior Jeremy Porter was the top male finisher for the Cougars in the men’s 8K race with an eighth place finish and a time of 24:34.4, while senior Cody Drisko followed close behind with a time of 25:13.0, finishing in 38th place and was the second APU runner to cross the finish line.
Sophomore Kurt Hake and freshman runners Nathaniel Tamminga, Mark Field and Isaiah Madrigal and James Logan also finished their regular season at the Capital Cross Challenge.
As for the women, freshman Jenna Wilson was the first Cougar to finish in the women’s 6K race with a time of 21:58.9 and came in with a 33rd place finish. Junior Elise Larson followed close behind with a time of 22:12.1 and a 45th place finish.
Junior runners Brooke Caravello, Taylor Hurlock, Cindy Carabes, sophomores Isabelle Moran and Carly Halm and freshman Natali Contreras finished out their regular season on Saturday as well.
Both teams have performed well and persevered throughout the season even with injuries and tired legs throughout. APU’s season started at the Biola Invitational where the men’s team finished in third and the women’s in fourth.
Even with the great finishes, head coach Preston Grey believes there is still more potential to be seen.
“We definitely have more we can do and give, it was our first big race of the season, solid but there are things we can get better at,” Grey said.
The Cougars then went on to record team finishes of second place for the men and third for the women at the Coyote Challenge in San Bernardino, Calif..
Porter won the men’s individual title at both of the previous meets and has only been getting faster, getting ready for the postseason races.
“I’m trying to get my mental state in the right place. I haven’t ran against a lot of the PacWest teams this year, so unfortunately, going into it I’m not going to know exactly what to expect, so I’m just mentally preparing and keeping my head in the right place,” Porter said.
Another APU runner who has had a great season so far for the women is Wilson, who has been the top finisher for the Cougar’s every race this season. Even though the freshman has been the team’s top performer this season, she had only praise for the rest of her teammates.
“Cross country is not an individual sport, you have to have your teammates alongside you, I feel like our team in general is really good at being mentally prepared and going into it strong; not giving ourselves the glory but God the glory ultimately,” Wilson said.
With the final meet of the Cougars’ cross country regular season finally over, they now have set their sights of the Pacific West Conference Championships on Oct. 21.
Grey and his team are already preparing for the conference meet as PacWest competition becomes more competitive.
“The conference keeps getting better and better every year, we need to be ready for some challenges and teams coming after us,” Grey said.
This upcoming conference meet is the cross country portion of the Cornerstone Cup, the rivalry between APU and Biola University. In order for APU to score the available 20 points between the men’s and women’s teams, they must record an overall team finish higher than Biola at the PacWest conference meet.
“We are focusing on getting better right now, [Biola] won’t be our main focus at the conference meet, but we always want to beat them, that’s for sure,” Grey said regarding the rivalry.
The Pacific West Conference meet will take place in Belmont, Calif. on Oct. 21.