CSUSM Women's Cross-Country Wins National Championship!

Cal State San Marcos women's cross-country has won the 2009 NAIA National Championship.
 
The second-ranked Cougars pulled off the shocking upset Saturday morning on a rough and muddy course at Fort Vancouver in Washington.  CSUSM topped the field of the NAIA's 32 best teams, including #1-ranked and heavily favored defending champion Azusa Pacific.
 
Coach Steve Scott's squad, which won the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Conference Championship earlier this month, posted a total team score of 137.  Biola University finished second at 140, and Malone took third at 163.  Azusa Pacific would fall victim to the conditions, finishing fifth.  "It was quite a shock," commented Coach Scott following the race.  "You know that anything can happen, especially in these conditions.  Before the race, I told the team that this would be the hardest race they'll ever run."
 
As has been the case throughout the season, the team's top-3 runners came up huge.  Senior Dallon Williams, sophomore Cady Villarreal, and junior Jessica Sandoval capped off their seasons with their most clutch performances to date.  Williams matched her finish from last year's Nationals, taking sixth in the nation for the second consecutive season.  She ran a blistering-fast 18:20.  Villarreal was not far behind, posting a time of 18:29 to place 11th.  And Sandoval came through as well, finishing 28th with a time of 19:11.  Williams and Villarreal earned All-American status, with Sandoval missing it by the slimmest of margins.

Those performances were to be expected, however.  The biggest X-factor for CSUSM entering the race was the performance of its #4 and #5 runners, which nearly cost the team at the Conference Championships.  So on Saturday, what freshman Kelly Thompson did was perhaps the biggest reason the Cougars are national champions.  The true freshman ran 19:14, improbably finishing 32nd to narrowly miss All-American status.  Thompson essentially turned the team's "big three" into a "big four," giving the squad a huge boost.  "Kelly was the outstanding performer," noted Coach Scott.  "You come to expect this kind of perfomance out of Dallon, Cady, and Jessica, but Kelly really stepped up."
 
Equally big was the contribution of Sin Carrano.  Carrano, an active-duty marine, has been in and out of the team's top-five throughout this season, but on Saturday she was most definitely in it.  She took 60th place, running a time of 19:46 to give Coach Scott's squad the solid top-five it needed to take home the title.  From a time standpoint, CSUSM finished six seconds ahead of Biola as a team.  Also competing for the Cougars were Jen Albright (94th; 20:06) and Lindsey McKown (154th; 20:56).
 
The win is the first team national championship in the 10-year history of Cal State San Marcos Athletics.  CSUSM has had three individuals win track & field national championships.  The win is the first team national championship in the 10-year history of Cal State San Marcos Athletics.  CSUSM has had three individuals win track & field national championships.

CSUSM topped the field of the NAIA's 32 best teams, including #1-ranked and heavily favored defending champion Azusa Pacific.