The Santa Clarita Aquatic Center serves as a training facility for The Master’s University swim team. Courtesy of TMU Athletics

TMU Insider: Mustang freshmen start swim season with a spark

By Mason Nesbitt

For The Signal

A promising pair of Mustangs opened the 2019-2020 season with near national qualifying times. 

Garrett Cargile and Xavier Gutierrez, two members of The Master’s University aquatic program’s impressive freshman class, each narrowly missed hitting the NAIA standard in the 100-yard freestyle Saturday at the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference Pentathlon in La Mirada. 

The Mustang women’s swim team overshadowed the men last season, the program’s first in existence, but Cargile and Gutierrez made clear in the season opener that the headlines should be more balanced in the second go-round. 

Cargile, a sectional finalist while at Ayala High in Riverside, finished eighth in the 100 free in a time of 49.49 seconds. The time met the NAIA’s B cut, which means should Cargile qualify for nationals in another event, he could add the 100 free as a bonus event. More than likely, however, he will hit the A standard before the end of the season and become the first — or one of the first — member of the Mustang men’s program to qualify for nationals. He was less than a second off reaching that goal Saturday. 

Gutierrez came in 12th in the 100 free (49.89), also making the B cut. 

Both freshmen also impressed in other events. Cargile placed fifth in the 100 individual medley (57.17) and 12th in the 50 free (22.82, just missing the B cut). 

Gutierrez came in 17th in the 50 free (23.24). 

Elsewhere, freshman Raymie Matiashowski placed seventh in the 500 freestyle, finishing in 5 minutes, 4.40 seconds, just four seconds off the B cut. The strong start wasn’t a surprise. Matiashowski won an Alaska state title in the event as a junior and finished second as a senior. 

On the women’s side, sophomore Simone Williams performed admirably in the 50 butterfly (29.78) and the 100 fly (1:09.72). She was a key member of the inaugural women’s team, which qualified two relays for national’s in the Mustangs’ first ever meet last season. 

Ultimately, Williams was part of three relays that competed at NAIA nationals in Columbus, Georgia, last season. This year’s nationals are set for Knoxville, Tennessee. The Mustangs plan to be there.  

For now, Master’s will next swim at Pepperdine’s Malibu Invite on Friday and Saturday. 

Men’s cross country rises in national rankings

The Master’s University men’s cross country believed entering the season it possessed the talent and depth to be a top five team in the NAIA.

Its performance at its home meet added credibility to the belief, and last week, the NAIA Coaches Poll lent its stamp of approval to the idea.  

The Mustangs came in at No. 5, its highest national ranking since early in the 2017 season and a sign the team is moving in the right direction as it climbs toward the postseason.

“The top four teams get to stand on the podium and be recognized at nationals,” said Master’s coach Zach Schroeder, whose team sat at No. 13 in the previous poll. “Breaking into the top five in the rankings is a big indicator that this team is on track to run with the best in the NAIA. We long to use the podium as a platform of influence for the Kingdom and that is one of the main reasons we desire a top finish at nationals.

“If we can finish in the top four in November, we will accomplish a big goal we set for this team. I’m humbled and blessed to work with such a great group of young men who are working so hard to achieve their best in praise of the Lord.”

The team’s achievements went beyond a high ranking last week. Master’s senior Stephen Pacheco was named a Golden State Athletic Conference Runner of the Month for his performances in September.

After finishing 32nd in a field permeated by NCAA Division 1 runners at the UC Riverside Invitational on Sept. 14, Pacheco was named the NAIA Runner of the Week, the first Mustang men’s athlete to do so since John Gilbertson in 2012.  

Wesley Methum has also been at the forefront of TMU’s accomplishments. Methum finished a team-best seventh place on Sept. 28 at The Master’s University XC Invitational, which welcomed more than 1,500 athletes to Central Park in Santa Clarita for eight races (high school and college).

The Mustangs came in second overall, ahead of then-No. 6 Embry-Riddle Arizona and then-No. 10 Lewis-Clark State. It was a bold statement and the catalyst for TMU’s jump in the rankings.

The Mustangs will race again on Saturday at the Vanguard Invitational in Irvine Regional Park. The course will also serve as the home of the GSAC Championships on Nov. 8, when Master’s will go for its 10th straight conference title.

For TMU’s women’s team, the Mustangs received votes in Thursday’s poll, resting just outside the top 25. 

For more information on TMU Athletics, visit GoMustangs.com.

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