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Oklahoma City, OK

November 5, 2018 | Blake Cochran

The Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) men and women cross country teams competed in the program’s sixth Sooner Athletic Conference Championship this past weekend. For the first time in over twenty years, the meet had shifted from its home in Shawnee, OK , to Woodson Park in Oklahoma City, OK . The meet is the first year of a two year bid and hosted by the Oklahoma City University Stars .

The women kicked off the SAC Championships at 9:30 am in sub-60-degree temperature which was combined with 20-30 mph winds. Unfortunately, this was not a recipe for a fast meet that the women were hoping for. Nevertheless, the Lady Lions competed very well. They were led once again by freshman Ayla Pope who finished 30th overall with a time of 22:00. She was followed by teammates Alexandria Castillo, Destiny Barclift, Caitlin Cruz, and Alyssa Moore to round out the women’s top 5. They placed 35th, 37th, 40th, and 44th respectively.

Head Coach Jason Covarrubias said after the ladies race, “I am extremely proud of these ladies. We are building a sustainable program that will last for years and today was a huge step in the right direction. I am sad that they did not reach their goal to qualify for the NCCAA National Championship next weekend but the effort was their today. Hands down, we got better today.”

The men followed the women’s race, and although the temperatures rose to around 65 degrees, the winds never died down and took a toll on the entire field’s time. The Lions were coming into the SAC Championships receiving votes nationally and were slated to finish behind the top NAIA school in the country, Oklahoma City University, and they did just that but by a hair. The Lions claimed the SAC Runner Up title with 74 points, followed closely behind by John Brown University with 76 points.

The team was paced by two SAC All-Conference recipients, freshman Zackery Hammond , and senior Adrian Cedillo , who finished in 4th and 10th place overall. Junior Cody Walker , redshirt sophomore Robert Herrera , and freshman Arturo Valdez followed closely behind the two All-SAC runners with their 19th, 20th, and 29th place finishes. Covarrubias said, “Wow, what a race. We needed our top guys to run out of their mind and our 5th runner to close the gap, but with the wind that was probably impossible. So I just throughout that game plan and told them to simply, compete! They did just that and it worked out in our favor today. These men worked hard and they deserved everything they received. I am extremely happy for Adrian Cedillo, what a way to close out your career with a national championship automatic bid! I hope we did enough today to earn a bid but now we just wait on the NAIA.”

Covarrubias was referring to the NAIA’s process for awarding National Championship at-large bids in which the Lions are in the conversation of receiving. The requirements to be eligible for an at-large bid is for the team to be nationally ranked in the top 30. In the latest poll, the SAGU Lions were ranked 31st.

Until then, the men will compete in the NCCAA National Cross Country Championship hosted by the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO on Saturday, November 10th.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at

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