Jan. 26, 2020
Biola is no stranger to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' top-25 coaches' poll, but it is rare air to find itself at No. 1 in the entire nation.
For the second time since 2010, the Biola women's cross country team opens the year as the top-ranked program in the NAIA preseason coaches' poll. The Eagles finished the year as the national runner-up the last time they began the year in the No. 1 spot.
The Eagles' women's contingent has found itself among the top 15 teams in the nation in each of the 73 polls to be released since the preseason of 2007. Only eight times in those 73 polls did the Eagles find themselves at the very top of those rankings. Prior to today's No. 1 ranking, all No. 1 rankings in Biola's program history came in 2010.
The women's squad spent all of the 2013 season inside of the top-12 teams in the country. The team was ranked No. 12 headed into the year, and it climbed up to as high as No. 3 by the end of the season.
The Eagles received 12 of the 21 possible first place votes, and they edged the No. 2 team, Lewis-Clark State (ID), by seven points, with 580 total points.
"We are excited about this initial rating, however these things are really out of our control," said Head Coach Jonathan Zimmerman. "Much of the rating is based on the body of work produced over the past few years. We are a new team, with a new dynamic."
Raters rewarded Biola for bringing back four of its top-5 runners from a year ago and adding some top talent with its freshmen class. Kellian Hunt and Carrie Soholt were each NAIA All-Americans following strong individual performances at last season's NAIA National Championships. It was Hunt's second-straight All-American nod, and it added to her individual Golden State Athletic Conference Championship. Sarah Pfaff, Lyndee Dawson and Anika Gasner also ran at last year's national championships.
Brooke Arvidson, Megan Callender, Hannah Jossi and Ilima Kung are also returning from 2013's GSAC Championship winning squad.
Zimmerman tacked on five new members to this year's women's contingent, including four freshman and a track and field All-American running cross country at Biola for the first time.
The men's squad spent three weeks inside of the NAIA top-25 last season, but enters this year unranked. The 2014 editions of Zimmerman's squad is vastly different from last seasons, as he brings back just two runners.
Brandon Berz and Kevin Horchler will be the two veterans, who will be joined by five newcomers to complete the small team.
Wes Noyes, Kwalia Mairori and Timmy Wilson, all freshmen, join Jordan Cardenas and Hunter Johnson, the transfers, to complete a solid set of incoming distance runners.
Cardenas comes to Biola after one year at the University of Portland, where he did not compete. Johnson spent two seasons at El Camino College prior to joining this Eagles squad.
Noyes followed the strong pipeline Zimmerman has established from Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, Illinois, while Wilson is a local find.
Mairori is a transport from Nairobi, Kenya, who hopes to one day become the Kenyan president.
"Professors are bringing back the syllabi, and our student-athletes are embracing learning and balancing that with training," said Zimmerman. "We've been really blessed with some fine folks, and it should be a rewarding season."
Both the men and women's sides compete this weekend at the Redlands Invitational.
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