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College X-C: Familiar sight at Mustang Challenge

TMC wins in men’s race, sets record time in women’s

Posted: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The inaugural Mustang Challenge cross country race hosted by The Master’s College at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday afternoon went off about as well as the Mustangs could have hoped.

Familiar faces John Gilbertson and Anthony Pizzo finished one and two in the men’s 8K race to propel TMC to a 30-69 victory over second-place Westmont, and Hannah Kellerman set a school record by winning the women’s 5K race in 17 minutes, 44.65 seconds, as the women finished in second place behind Westmont, 39-50.

“Bringing collegiate cross country to the Santa Clarita Valley has been something we’ve have been dreaming about,” said TMC head coach Zach Schroeder of hosting the event. “It was something that really dazzled the spectators who came out. It was a great environment.”

Kellerman broke the previous school-record time of 17:59 set by Holly Kopp at the Biola Invitational last season.

“It was very exciting, kind of surreal,” Kellerman said of setting the school record. “I just feel very blessed to be on this team.

Kopp and Kellerman are good friends and have trained together over the course of the past year.

“She was happy for me,” Kellerman said. “It’s kind of fun, like the passing on of the torch and Holly’s been a huge encouragement to me over the past year. So, it’s kind of special.”

Also shining for the Mustangs on Saturday was Saugus High graduate Karis Frankian, who finished in third place with a time of 18:07.21.

“She brought a confidence to Saugus that the other girls rallied around,” Schroeder said. “And we can see that same confidence passed around to our other girls.”

Westmont’s top finisher was Jessica Meyers (18:29.11, fifth place), but the Warriors placed their seven scoring runners in the top 13 to edge out TMC.

“The strength of the women’s team is going to be our four and five. If they can continue to close the gap on the front, it compounds how good we can be,” Schroeder said. We lost to Westmont in the back today, but we beat them in the front.”

On the men’s side, no such problem existed.

Gilbertson easily won the race in 25:06.15 over teammate Pizzo’s 25:53.83, and the Mustangs also placed six runners in the top 18 of the 10-team field.

Similarly to the girls team, the performances in the back will determine how well the Mustangs do this season.

“The secret is how big our three, four and five guys compete this year,” Schroeder said. “When you look at the team score, we scored 30 points, and the next best score was 69. But we beat the team by over 3 minutes. We had a really strong performance on our home course.”

The marquee performance, though, was from Gilbertson.

“He is racing better than anyone has in the history of the college,” Schroeder said. “And I would say in the history of the Santa Clarita Valley there hasn’t been a male who has had such dominance for quite some time.”

Now, TMC will turn its attention to the Stanford Invitational where the competition will be another step up.

“That will be a good test of how good Gilbertson is,” Schroeder said. “He’s excited to have that chance.”


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