Eagles Ranked No. 1 in NAIA Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll

Cross Country team strives for excellence on and off the field

Aug. 26, 2010 By Jenna Bartlo

Coming off an impressive second-place finish to close out the 2009 season, the Biola University women's cross country team was ranked No. 1 in the 2010 NAIA Preseason Poll released on Wednesday.

The Eagles return the entire 2009 squad which stunned the field and finished second at the NAIA National Championships, just three points out of first place. That includes a pair of NAIA All-Americans and four All-GSAC representatives.

Following behind Biola in the rankings were last season's champions Cal State San Marcos, Malone (Ohio), Simon Fraser (B.C.) and defending GSAC champion Azusa Pacific.

“There are so many outstanding cross country programs right here in the GSAC, that we feel honored to have been ranked where we are,” said Head Coach Jonathan Zimmerman. “Competing against them truly brings out the best in us.”

The No. 1 ranking is a first in program history and a far cry from four years ago when Coach Zimmerman took the reins of the program which struggled to finish in the top five in the GSAC.

“Each year we strive to become united as a team, to keep getting a little bit better and continue to raise the bar high in both athletics and academics,” said Zimmerman.

The Eagles return an impressive group of runners from the 2009 squad, including seniors Katie Thede and Sarah Brooks. Thede placed 22nd and Brooks was 25th as both earned NAIA All-American honors at the National Championship race last year. Joining the pair are All-GSAC representatives in junior Nychele Fischetti and senior Kelsey Gasner, who placed 39th and 45th at the NAIA race last year.

Biola's schedule is once again a tough one as the Eagles prepare for a chance at the NAIA Championship. Among the big races are the Biola Invitational that should feature a number of top teams and the GSAC Championship in Fresno.

“We've got a nice balance in our racing schedule this year with some local meets and some that involve a bit of travel,” said Zimmerman. “We also have a superb group of veterans on the squads who over the years have really set the standard both on and off the field. Add to them our freshmen and transfers and it really builds into a fun group that I really feel blessed to serve.”

Read the complete press release from the NAIA.

Written by Jeff Hoffman, Sports Information Director. For more information, Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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