By Mason Nesbitt
For The Signal
Is there a better way to highlight the sport of cross-country and your university than to have one of your most-organized, most-successful programs host a meet each year?
There’s a reason The Master’s University XC Invitational has grown to be the largest of its kind in Southern California. Every fall, and for months and months prior, TMU head coach Zach Schroeder and his wife Amie, an assistant coach, pour themselves into organizing and operating a meet that this year will include more than 1,000 runners in eight college and high school races.
The event is Saturday at Central Park in Saugus, with the first race at 6:45 a.m. and the last at 10:30 a.m. The collegiate men’s race goes off at 7:45 and will feature runners from Cal State Fullerton and UCLA.
The collegiate women’s race, with athletes from USC, starts at 8:30.
Admission for fans is free.
“We feel like we can build a premier collegiate meet here,” Zach Schroeder said. “We’re really looking for this to be a fantastic West Coast option for teams looking for a great course that’s attracting competitive teams.
“We haven’t arrived, but that’s something we’re working toward.”
They’re pretty close. In the now seven-year history of the event, this edition will be the largest.
Close to 600 of the 1,082 runners signed up as of Monday afternoon were high-schoolers, meaning a grip of youngsters will be exposed to high-level cross country and, specifically, a Master’s program that has won eight straight conference titles on the men’s side and another conference crown on the women’s side (last season). The Mustang men are currently ranked No. 16 in the NAIA. The women received votes.
This year, Master’s partnered with Saugus High to pull off the event, with Saugus providing volunteers and using its pull as one of the best programs in the state to draw other top teams. All proceeds from the event’s high school entries will benefit Saugus’ program.
All in attendance Saturday should benefit from Central Park’s viewer-friendly courses.
“You’ll be able to see big portions of the race from start to finish,” Schroeder said. “It creates an exciting atmosphere.”
Central Park will also play host to the Golden State Athletic Conference championship on Nov. 3, so Saturday will serve as a preview of sorts. That, in part, is why Master’s will be competing against so many of its conference rivals.
“We’ll know exactly where our team currently sits in the conference,” Schroeder said. “From there, we’ll have one final push to get things sharpened for conference finals.”
Mangan named GSAC Player of the Week
Saugus High graduate and TMU senior Trevor Mangan was named the GSAC’s Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after he totaled three goals and two assists in two games last week.
The forward leads the Mustangs (8-2-0) with eight goals and six assists on the year. TMU opens GSAC play on Thursday at home against No. 10 Vanguard University. Game time is 4 p.m.
As for Mangan, he scored a goal and assisted on another in a 4-2 loss to Florida National University on Sept. 18, and he scored two goals with an assist in a 3-2 overtime win over Bethesda University of California on Sept. 20.
Women’s volleyball rises to No. 14 in the country
The Master’s University women’s volleyball team (16-3 overall, 5-0 in GSAC) moved up nine spots to claim No. 14 in the most-recent NAIA Coaches’ Top 25. It is TMU’s highest ranking since 2013. The Mustangs play at home on Friday (6 p.m.) against Menlo College and Saturday (3 p.m.) against William Jessup University.
For schedules, stories and scores, visit GoMustangs.com or follow us on Instagram: tmuathletics.