Men’s and women’s cross country finished in fifth and second place, respectively, in the PacWest Conference Championships.
Led by grayshirt freshman Eileen Stressling, women’s cross country raced to a second place finish in Fresno, Calif. on Friday. Stressling snagged the individual title with a time of 21:14.8, averaging a sparking 5:41.9 per mile throughout the 6K trek. On the men’s side, Azusa Pacific finished fifth in the conference out of ten teams. Freshman Ben Drew led the way for the Cougars in the 8K with an eighth place finish and a time of 25:22.3, surpassing his previous season-best mark by roughly ten seconds.
Despite a commendable second place finish, the women’s cross country squad might have left Fresno wondering what could have been. As a team, they tied with Point Loma with exactly 38 points. Unfortunately, the Cougars came out on the wrong end of a tiebreaker that compared head-to-head results between the two teams. It was the first PacWest Conference Championship in history that has ever required a tiebreaker to declare a winner.
Despite disappointment in the team portion of the race, Friday was business as usual for Stressling, who cruised to victory with 49.3 seconds separating her from the second place finisher. Still, her time of 21:14.8 was actually 38.9 seconds slower than her 6K performance back in September of this year at the UC Riverside Annual Invitational, where she finished fifth place overall. Her teammates also lit up the award ceremony, with five Cougars represented among the All-PacWest first, second, and third teams. On the men’s side, four Cougars in total managed to crack the All-PacWest second or third teams.
The cross country season isn’t over yet. Both the men’s and women’s teams are slated to run in the NCAA Division II West Region Championships on Nov. 17 in Billings, Mont.