WINFIELD, Kan. — The NAIA Mid-States Classic Cross Country Meet is held in late October each fall and is an opportunity for NAIA cross country teams to test themselves against NAIA only competition prior to conference meets and nationals.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University has competed in the NAIA Mid-States Classic for multiple years and did so again on Saturday.

Coach Jason Covarrubias embraces the opportunity to pit his runners against the top NAIA teams in the Midwest region prior to final training for the Sooner Athletic Conference meet and possible NAIA and NCCAA national tournament competition.

The weather was great for racing with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50-degree range. Thursday’s rain may have slowed the course a little but did not inhibit the traction of racers.

SAGU women placed 17th out of 19 competing schools with a composite time of 1:58:40 and an average of 22:14 individual time.

Crossing the finish line first for the SAGU women was freshman Skyla Mackey, who placed 64th overall in a time of 20:54.66. The rest of the team’s top five finishers were Yannely O’Campo-Turcios, who finished 76th in 21:19.58; Caitlin Cruz, 104th in 22:13.67; Destiny Barclift, 115th in 22:53.27; and Kangwa Chisanga, 129th in 23.52.43.

"The day was a culmination of hard work and buy in,” Covarrubias said. “Our goal coming into the competition was to qualify for NCCAA championships. For that to happen, many of our runners needed PR's and all six runners responded with some clipping their previous personal records by a minute and a half. This effort created an overall team time nearly three minutes better than their best this season."

SAGU men finished 10th of 20 NAIA teams entered. The composite time of 27:42 was 38 seconds from a fifth place finish. The Lions spread of 4:57 remains the difference between a good cross season and a great season for the Lions.

Leading the Lions was sophomore Zackery Hammond, who finished 14th overall in 25:52.25. The rest of the team total was rounded out by Robert Herrera, who was 23rd in 26:18.23; Cody Walker, 31st in 26:34.87; Arturo Valdez, 112th in 28:54.79; and Jose Alvarez, 150th in 30:49.88.

"The men had big shoes to fill after finishing 4th at this event in 2018,” Covarrubias said. “Our plan was to focus on the basics, fast running, be competitive within the race, and finish strong. For the most part the plan worked. Our top three racers have their eyes on individual national bids and received a good indication of where they place in our conference after today. We still have work to do over these next three weeks leading to conference."

SAGU will now prepare for the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship in Oklahoma City on Nov. 9.