Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA – It was an historic day for The Master's College, as TMC's running program hosted their first home cross country meet in over a decade at Central Park in Santa Clarita, CA. The inaugural Mustang Challenge Cross Country Invitational was a tremendous success, thanks to overwhelming support from The Master's College family, friends, the City of Santa Clarita, and the local community. An army of over 50 volunteers comprised of TMC administration, faculty, staff, alumni and students, along with the help of city employees and many local fans, worked together to put on what TMC hopes will be an annual event for years to come.
"The support we received from the TMC community and local fans was unlike anything I've ever seen for a collegiate cross country race. Our program is so blessed to have the kind of support we saw today," said Coach Schroeder. "It's been a dream of mine and my wife's to host a meet since I began coaching at the college. It was an incredible blessing to see that dream come to fruition today. The number of volunteer participation speaks volumes of the humility and willingness to serve that characterizes the TMC community. We even had other TMC athletic teams out helping work the race, including the entire women's basketball team, and six or seven guys from men's baseball. Our prayer was that the Lord Jesus would be honored by our meet… The way the campus rallied together for this event was truly a testimony of the love of Christ being practically lived out."
Six of the 10 teams in attendance were GSAC member schools, with Loyola Marymount University, University of La Verne, College of the Canyons, and former GSAC member, Fresno Pacific, rounding out the field.
The women's 5K race began at 8:15 a.m. Blazing the trail for The Master's was junior Hannah Kellerman (Sartell, MN). Taking over the race shortly after the first mile, Kellerman never relinquished her lead. Winning the race in 17:44, Hannah ran a personal best and set a new school record. "I'm not surprised in the least by how Hannah performed today," said Schroeder. "This is the athlete I know she is, and it was great to see her put together a race representative of the incredible amount of work she's done."
With four runners in the top 10, Westmont won the women's meet with a score of 39 points, with the Mustangs finishing just 11 points back in second place. It was a special day with Kellerman claiming a victory on The Master's new home course, and three members of the TMC squad finishing in the top ten. Complete results may be viewed at www.masters.edu/athletics.
It was fairly warm and humid when the gun went off at the start of the men's 8K race, with the temperature registering around 80 degrees, making conditions somewhat challenging. The Master's men placed five runners in the top 12 to win the meet and defeated the next closest team by over three minutes in team time.
Taking the lead from the first moments of the race, TMC's John Gilbertson separated himself from the entire field of competition within the first half mile. Running solo all the way to the finish line, Gilbertson cruised to a comfortable victory for the second race in a row with a time of 25:06. Having won the UC Irvine Invitational 2 weeks ago and the Mustang Challenge today, Gilbertson is looking to put together a strong showing at the prestigious Stanford Invitational next weekend where he hopes to claim a third win for the season.
Finishing second for TMC and second overall was Anthony Pizzo in 25:53, followed by teammate John Hurd who finished sixth overall in a time of 26:27. "This was an outstanding race for John. Today is his birthday and this is how he wanted to celebrate," Schroeder laughed. "John's been a little injured and this was his first race back. He came out planning to run big and that's what he did."
From the GSAC, Westmont finished in second, Arizona was fourth and Vanguard was fifth. For complete men's results go to www.masters.edu/athletics.