Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s new sport, Cross Country began its first season of existence this week.

Both the men’s and women’s teams suited up and competed in the Bill Libby Invitational, which was hosted by McMurry University in Abilene.

“Well, the first meet is under our belt,” SAGU coach Jason Covarrubias said. “I’m very proud of our teams and their effort. And we’re only going to improve.”

The results were encouraging, though the men were minus one of their best runners, who was fulfilling a weekend commitment with the Army Reserve. The ladies team also sent a shorthanded unit.

The SAGU men placed sixth of the nine college teams in the field. They racked up 123 points, only eight points behind Lubbock Christian University (NCAA Division II) and trailed Abilene Christian University by just 17.

With an all-freshman cast, Jose Campos was the Lions’ top finisher. His time in the 8K was 27:44, which was 15th overall.

John “B.J.” Hillhouse and Juan Rubio were on his heels. Their times were 28:24 and 28:41 respectively, good enough to place 25th and 27th.

Moments later it was Christian Yglecias ending at 29:17 and Nate Gonzales at 30:33. Those times were good neough for 34th and 42nd, respectively.

According to Covarrubias, the team’s average time was three minutes faster than the qualifying mark set by the NCCAA. That means they are all bound for the National Meet in Ohio on Nov. 16.

The Lady Lions were not able to garner points due to the size of their squad. Still, three harriers finished for SAGU.

Freshman Kristen Herrington crossed the line at Nelson Park in 35th place in the 5K race. She was clocked at 21:26 and was only five seconds shy of qualifying for the NCCAA meet.

Destiny Garza, another freshman, came in 46th at 22:12 while sophomore Julie Alvarez had a victory all her own. The newcomer put the wraps on her first-ever 5K with a time of 25:17.

The Cross Country teams’ next meet is much more local. They will participate in Fort Worth in the Texas Wesleyan Invitational tomorrow morning. Covarrubias plans to have a full squad of Lady Lions suited up for the meet. Their goal is to qualify for the NCCAA’s.