Both the men and women squads competed in the Biola Invitational for the first time since 2017

Azusa Pacific’s men’s and women’s cross country teams began the 2019 season by competing at the Biola Invitational on Saturday morning.

Last season the team did not compete in this event, however, in 2017, APU saw incredible success after the men placed third overall, averaging a time of 26:00.43 in the 8K race and the women finished fourth, with an average time of 19:35.34 in the 5K race.

This year, although they couldn’t completely replicate their success from 2017, the Cougars had a solid outing at Ted Craig Regional Park. 

The women in the 5K race placed tenth out of the 20 competing schools, with graduate transfer Sammy Bockoven being the top finisher for APU earning the eighth-best time of 18:33.42 out of the 162 racers. Natali Contreras was the second-best finisher for the Cougars finishing with the 30th overall time of 18:57.13, and Molly Hake was the third-best on the squad with a 19:34.92 time. The men, however, did not have a prosperous race. 

Along with their third overall finish in 2017, the Cougars also saw two of their individual racers finish in the top five that season, with Jeremy Porter finishing first among all racers. 

For this campaign’s Biola invitational, APU’s best finisher in the 8K race was sophomore Nixon Korir. He crossed the finish line with a time of 26:17.5, which ranked 34th overall. The next best finisher out of the eight racers was freshman Ben Sumner who placed 72nd with a 27:13.84 finish.

Although the Cougars finest runners failed to reach the top of the standings, the squad finished 12th overall out of the 18 universities. While it wasn’t the result they wanted, there were 36 competitors that finished below the Cougars final racer. This proves that the team has the potential to finish strong by the end of races consistently.

The first race may not have exceeded expectations for either team; however, it will be a long season for this program in which they should grow stronger following every contest.

APU’s cross country teams will need to prepare quickly for their next race on Friday at Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos, California for the appropriately named Cougar Challenge.