The Cougar’s cross country season starts on a high note

The Azusa Pacific Cross Country season was under way at the Biola Invitational with a men’s 8k team third-place finish and a women’s 5k team fourth-place finish last Saturday.

The Biola Invitational, held in Fullerton, was the first time Azusa Pacific and Biola University have competed against each other since 2012 – as Biola is in the midst of transitioning to NCAA Division II. It is their first year as a Pacific West Conference school.

Senior and Business Management Jeremy Porter, who won the individual title, was the top Cougar finisher with a time of 24:54.85 in the 8k race. Porter finished 11 seconds ahead of second place with fellow teammate and senior Cody Drisko close behind finishing in fifth place with a time of 25:22.62.

The next APU runner to finish in the men’s race was freshman Nathaniel Tamminga with a time of 26:00.44 and a 13th place finish. Freshman Mark Field followed by coming in at 29th place with a time of 26:36.41, and sophomore Kurt Hake began the season with a time of 27:07. 79 and a 38th place finish. Isaiah Madrigal came in 53rd at 27:39.79 while Josh Nyberg finished in 63rd with a time of 27:55.65 to round out the third place Cougars.

In the women’s 5k race, freshman Jenna Wilson was the top Cougar finisher with a time of 18:31.10 and a 10th place finish. Junior Elise Larson was the next Cougar to finish and 14th overall with a time 18:43.89. Freshman Natali Contreras finished in 44th with a time of 19:45.91, as junior Brooke Caravello (54th; 20:00.12), sophomore Carly Halm (85th; 20:56.61) and junior Cindy Carabes (91st; 21:06.67) crossed the finish line to help APU snag the fourth overall team finish.

“I really liked their effort, their competitiveness, and intensity which are things you can always bring no matter who you have out there,” head coach Preston Grey said.

Even with the great finishes from both teams there were multiple injuries throughout and not every runner was healthy coming into the race, “once we are healthy we will be in a lot spot with the group,” Grey continued.

With five of the eight members of the men’s team and two of 10 members of the women’s being freshmen, there is a lot of potential in the upcoming months as they try to adjust to the new level of racing. Yet, their upperclassmen counterparts are very confident in their skill set.

“They have a lot of potential, I’m out there everyday with them and I think that our team is going to do some great stuff this season,” junior Brooke Caravello said.

Both men and women’s cross country teams are looking to improve of last seasons PacWest finishes of third for the men, and fifth for the women.

Senior Jeremy Porter looks to improve on his performances from last season by aiming to have his best season this year.

“I’m really looking to improve in the way that I just love to get out there in the morning and try to get that personal record and enjoy my last season,” Porter said.

Grey hopes to see a fresh team that is ready for the conference and regional meets.

“The next two meets are more of just learning experiences… we’re not backing off our training, we’re still running a lot of miles. We won’t be fresh going into them with the idea that we will be a lot better in the conference and regional meet,” Grey said.

The Cougars will compete in their next meet on Saturday, September 23 at the Coyote Challenge in San Bernardino.