December 14, 2016
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – The Master’s University men’s cross country team remained as one of the more decorated programs in recent TMU Athletics history after completing yet another outstanding season in 2016.
After impressive appearances in four regular-season races (including a first-place finish in the season opener at the Mark Covert Classic hosted by CSUF and a second-place finish at the Titan Invitational later in the season), the Mustangs claimed their seventh-consecutive conference title at the 2016 GSAC Championships on November 5 in Rocklin.
The Mustangs’ first-place team finish at the GSAC Championship was backed by a collective team time of 2:05:12. Based on his team’s performance, TMU head coach Zach Schroeder was pegged as the GSAC’s Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the seventh-straight season.
The Mustangs claimed the top three places at the GSAC Championship with Joshua Sherfey taking the individual title after finishing the race in 24:45.3. TMU newcomer Alec Franco placed second overall at 24:52.8, while Andrew Orona earned a third-place finish at 24:54.4. Skyler Mikesell finished in 10th-place at 25:14.8, Richard Buckelew placed 13th at 25:23.8, and Michael Sciarra earned a 15th-place finish at 25:32.9.
Based on their stellar performances at the conference championship, Sherfey, Franco, Orona, Mikesell, and Buckelew earned All-GSAC honors. Sherfey has now earned All-GSAC honors for four consecutive years (2013-16), while Buckelew has earned all-conference honors for three-straight years (2014-16). Repeating their all-conference honors were Orona (’14 & ’16) and Mikesell (’15 & ’16).
Two weeks later, TMU blitzed to an unprecedented fifth-place finish at the 2016 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships on the North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill., by recording a collective team time of 2:08:48.60.
At the conclusion of the national championship 8k, the Mustangs claimed 261 points and clocked an average time of 25:45.72.
TMU’s time was the second-fastest performance that the Mustangs have recorded at the NAIA National Championships. In 2011, the Mustangs assembled a program-best collective time of 2:06:33.
Based on their performances in the classroom, Skyler Mikesell and Josh Sherfey were named as GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Notably, this was Sherfey’s second time receiving the academic honors on both the conference and the national levels.
Finally, at the end of the season, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named Sherfey the 2016 Men’s Athlete of the Year for the West Region, while Schroeder was named the Men’s Coach of the Year for the West Region.
Looking ahead, the Mustangs, who finished fifth in the NAIA Top 25 postseason poll, will graduate two seniors, but will return a slew of talented student-athletes and welcome a number of key off-season additions for the 2017 campaign. In the upcoming months, TMU men’s cross country fans are encouraged to check back for new student-athlete signing articles and the announcement of the 2017 season schedule.