The PLNU Women’s Cross Country team has won its first-ever PacWest Championship.
In the race up in Fresno, the team was in a tight battle with Azuza Pacific but won in a tiebreaker after both teams finished with 38 points. PLNU won the tiebreaker 3–2, as three Sea Lions finished in the top five between the two teams.
At the conclusion of the race, there was a lot of uncertainty among the runners not knowing how the winner was officially going to be decided.
“That was very stressful,” said sophomore Madi Bucci. “Just being tied with Azuza and not knowing how they’re gonna break the tie really, or if we won. We assumed based on what they were gonna do that we had won, but we weren’t exactly sure. They waited until the very last minute to tell us.”
When the winner was finally announced, there was a heart-sinking moment, followed by overwhelming happiness.
“The way that they announced that we had gotten first was very confusing,” said sophomore Logan Williams. “They said ‘There was a tie and Azusa… is your runner-up!’ So we were like, oh… Oh!”
Senior Hannah Benoit Bucher led the Sea Lions with a fourth-place finish at a time of 22.17.9. She was one of five Sea Lion runners to finish in the top 15, which also included seniors Marissa Bartello, Brianna Bartello, and Cassidy Towner, and junior Zita Molnar.
According to Williams, this race was an important one for Head Coach Jerry Arvin, who had been seeking his first PacWest title as a coach. Arvin has been coaching for PLNU cross country since 1994.
“A big thing I think was doing it for coach because he had never gotten a PacWest Championship,” said Williams. “Coach has been here for years, we’ve come close and never succeeded, so everyone was like ‘Aw coach, this is for you.’”
With five seniors also on this year’s team, it was a special moment for them to win the conference title.
The team will now prepare for the West Regionals, which take place on Nov. 17 in Billings, Montana. According to Bucci, the mental preparation is just as important as the physical preparation for big races like these.
“I know the seniors especially have some confidence going into this course because they did it two years ago and they qualified for nationals,” said Bucci. “I think a lot of them have the mentality that we’ve done it before, we can do it again.”