PLNU Cross-Country Secures PacWest Team and Runner of the Week Titles

PLNU Cross Country Team at the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational in Salem, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Aubrie Nex.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s Cross Country, also known as XC team, racked up the awards this past week. 

On Sept. 30, the runners competed in the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational in Salem, Oregon. The competition included hundreds of runners from schools ranging from NAIA to NCAA Division I universities, according to Among the 20+ teams that were there, PLNU stood out to conference officials and earned the title of PacWest Team of the Week.

Landon Bright, head coach of PLNU XC, was pleased with the result the team produced. In cross country, a team’s first five runners to cross the finish line contribute to the team’s score.

“On the team level, we had a pretty good result; we got seventh at the meet,” said Bright. “I think there were 24 teams. We had a pretty good 1 through 4 [runners]. Our fifth was a little bit of a spread there, but overall, they were able to put in a good performance as a team. They beat some quality teams. There weren’t a lot of D2 teams there, but we were close to a lot of solid D1 teams.”

Bright said being named PacWest Team of the Week gives him and the team a lot to look forward to this season. He felt this accomplishment will drive the team forward as they progress through the season.

“It was pretty good,” said Bright. “I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the conference. They had two quality meets back-to-back, that’s always a good sign, going into the conference meet.”

Not only did the XC team earn the PacWest Team of the Week award, but fourth-year marketing major Aubrie Nex was recognized as the PacWest Runner of the Week, beating over 200 other runners for the award.

“Aubrie had a good race,” said Bright. “We’ve been going to that meet since, I think, ‘95 or ‘96. It’s been like a 25-year history. I think we’ve maybe missed one year there or something, and she put in the top-two time of all time for our team on that course. So she ran well and she’s not even at 100%.”

Nex beat her 5k time from the previous year, bringing it from 18:16 to 17:48, placing 11th out of 223 runners and earning the title of PacWest Runner of the Week.

Although excited about her accomplishment, Nex is more focused on the success as a team.

“I was happy, but also, many of my teammates deserved it as well,” said Nex. “Everyone did really well in this race. My teammate, Elle, PRed by almost a full minute.” 

Like her coach, Nex felt that this past week has been a good boost as the Sea Lions approach their next race.

“I’m excited for the rest of the season,” said Nex. “We’re all much closer in time than we have been before, so we are able to work together more in the races. Hopefully, we can avoid injury and carry this momentum into conference [season].”

The Sea Lions will be competing in the XC PacWest Conference Championships in Fresno, California, in Woodward Park on Oct. 21, 2023.