Cross country keeps pace with the best at PacWest Championship in Hawaii

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The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the Pacific West Conference Championship this past weekend. Even in hot, humid conditions, the women’s team reigned as conference champions to bring home a NCAA Division II title, and the men’s team finished fourth overall.

Womens recap
The women’s team brought home the conference championship at the Pacific West competition in Kahuku, Hawaii this past weekend. Though this was the Cougars’ ninth championship in the past 12 years, it was the first NCAA Division II title for both the cross country team and for the university.

Head coach Preston Grey said that even though the finish was not pretty, it was enough to clinch the title.

“Grand Canyon got out hard and fast, and California Baptist charged late, so we had to have a huge finish at the end,” Grey said. “I think we passed five or six girls over the last 200 meters, and those were big points.”

Junior business major Sarah Higgens finished sixth place overall to earn All-PacWest honors, along with sophomore English major Kristie Sikma, freshman accounting major Sarah MacIntosh, junior psychology major Diandra Carstensen and freshman biology major Natalie Kosekela. All five Cougars had top-20 finishes. Higgens’ finish also earned her first-team status

Sikma, who has led the team in the past races, was ill before the meet and finished almost a minute slower than her season best. Though she was not able to run competitively for the individual title, she still pulled out a top-10 finish overall.

Men’s Recap

The men’s cross country team also worked to advance their team placement in the conference from the GSAC competition last year, but still has room for improvement. They finished fourth out of 13 schools in their conference.

Sophomore applied exercise major Peter Buscheck led the Cougars and earned first-team status with his time of 26:48.85, which earned him an 11th placement overall. He was followed by sophomore biology major Devin Pierce, who took 24th overall. A freshman pack consisting of Ryan Phillips, Aaron Potts and Sam Baker rounded out the top five. All three freshmen finished within 20 seconds of each other.

“The guys ran a so-so race,” Grey said. “Fourth as a team is better than when we finished in the GSAC last year.”

Though the team has improved, Grey said that the team ultimately wants to be better.

The heat and humidity was also a factor in the competition.

“The kids from Hawaii schools did better than we had projected them, and the mainland schools struggled a little bit with the heat,” Grey said.

The cross country teams will head to Cedarville, Ohio for the National Christian College Athletic Associational meet on Nov. 10 for the national championship.