Biola cross-country teams head to NAIA National Championship
Women's cross country ran for the playoffs during a competition with other GSAC Universities in Fresno on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011. | Courtesy of Biola Athletics
Men advance to nationals for fourth time, women for their fifth straight
Both Biola men’s and women’s cross-country teams are both headed to the NAIA National Championships following a solid race at the Golden State Athletic Conference finals.
The decision was made final on Monday, when the NAIA announced that both the men and women Eagles qualified for the NAIA National Championship by being ranked high enough on the national level. This will be the men’s first trip to the race since 1999, and fourth total, and the fifth consecutive nationals trip for the women.
Both teams place second at GSAC finals
On Saturday, Nov. 5 the NAIA No. 14 men and No. 7 women finished second in their races at the GSAC Cross-Country Championship in Fresno, Calif.
The men’s team set a program record with the fastest team time of 2:08:08. They finished in second place overall with 67 points, six points ahead of conference foe Westmont College.
“Our team strategy was to run our race. We knew teams like Westmont were going to go after it, especially in the first couple of miles,” senior Brian Aukshunas said. “They ran themselves out too early and that only strengthened us as the race went on. All of our team went after it in the final miles and raced for the Lord’s glory.”
Three men and women earn All-GSAC honors
In addition to their record-breaking time, the top three on the team earned all-GSAC honors by finishing in the top 14. Senior Collin Christensen, placing first for the Biola men and coming in sixth overall with a time of 25:03. Aukshunas followed close behind in ninth place with a time of 25:30, and sophomore Danny Ledesma came in 12th place at 25:35.
The women also made a statement by securing second place in their race with a team score of 64 points, while also securing all-GSAC recognition.
Senior Nychele Fischetti led the women’s team by placing fourth overall with 17:59, earning all-GSAC honors. Senior Carissa Bowman also earned all-conference recognition by finishing in 10th with a time of 18:13, and freshman Jessica Marquardt placed 11th with a time of 18:20.
“The team racing strategy was to compete hard with no regrets,” Fischetti said. “The week before the race our coach pulled us aside and made sure that we knew all of the girls who we were going to race against.”
The women’s team incorporated this in their race strategy by attempting to be in front of a competing runner as their goal.
“It was even more amazing of a feeling to cheer on our guys team and watch them have the best race in Biola men’s cross-country history,” Fischetti said. “This nationals will be exceptionally special because the entire guys and girls cross country team will be there competing together.”
The Eagles will race again at the NAIA National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash.