When deciding how to spend your free time this week, keep in mind that a lot will be decided in Santa Clarita over the next several days.
The Master’s University women’s volleyball team can clinch a share of the program’s first-ever Golden State Athletic Conference title Friday against No. 15 Vanguard University.
Game time is 7 p.m. at TMU’s Bross Court.
Then, Saturday, the Mustang men’s and women’s cross country teams will run in the GSAC Championships at Central Park in Saugus.
The women race at 8:30 a.m. with the men going at 9:30. In both cases, the Mustangs will send contenders to the line.
For the women, Hart High graduate Mikala Fairchild and freshman Arianna Ghiorso should challenge for the individual title.
Fairchild has been one of the Mustangs’ best runners during her four-year career and Ghiorso forced her way into the championship conversation with an eye-popping performance earlier this month in Northern California.
Ghiorso ran a personal best 17 minutes, 58.2 seconds to finish fourth overall at the Warrior Invitational in Rocklin, California, on Oct. 20. The performance earned her GSAC Runner of the Month honors on Monday.
“She ran very aggressive from the gun, going straight to the lead of the pack,” said head coach Zach Schroeder. “The race went out very hard, but Arianna was able to hang on for a fantastic finish.”
The Mustangs are hoping for an even better finish at Central Park, where Fairchild finished third overall at TMU’s home meet on Sept. 29 in a field that included runners from USC.
The day served as a wake-up call for TMU’s men’s team, a group that won an eighth straight GSAC title last season and looked poised to repeat. But Westmont routed the Mustangs at The Master’s University XC Invitational, sending an unequivocal message: a ninth title wouldn’t come easy.
So, Master’s sharpened its focus at practice. “It’s no joke anymore,” sophomore Wesley Methum said.
The Mustangs showed progress at the Warrior Invitational, finishing three points behind Westmont and setting the stage for a neck-and-neck finish Saturday.
“We’re about to peak when it counts,” Schroeder said. “The GSAC championship race will be one of the best head-to-head matchups we’ve ever had.”
Friday night’s home volleyball match promises to pack similar intensity. No. 11 TMU leads Westmont College by one match with two to play. A win over Vanguard would give the Mustangs a season sweep of the Lions and clinch a share of the GSAC title.
Ultimately, the Mustangs control their fate. A win Friday followed by a win at home Saturday against Life Pacific (7 p.m. start) would secure the title outright.
No. 1 Men’s basketball sweeps NCAA D2 opponents
The Mustangs followed up Thursday’s win over NCAA Division 2 Azusa Pacific with a 78-71 win over D2 Concordia University Irvine on Saturday.
Delewis Johnson led the Mustangs with 17 points, while Hansel Atencia followed with 16.
The Mustangs, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, will play No. 2 LSU Alexandria on Thursday at a high-profile tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.
Master’s will finish the tournament Friday with a game against No. 7 LSU Shreveport.
Both games will be streamed live through GoMustangs.com.
Women’s basketball to open with exhibition at CSUN
The Mustangs will face NCAA Division 1 Cal State Northridge on the road Wednesday in an exhibition contest. It will be the collegiate debut for freshman Stephanie Soares, a 6-foot-6, ESPN five-star prospect from Sau Paulo, Brazil, and the first look for fans at how Soares will mesh with a talented group of returners.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
For more information on The Master’s University Athletics, visit GoMustangs.com or follow us on Instagram: tmuathletics.