November 11, 2018 | Blake Cochran

The men's cross country team represented SAGU for the sixth time at the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 10th. The meet was held on the College of the Ozarks campus in Point Lookout, MO, and this race was the first of their bid for the championships. This year's field featured 17 DI and DII NCCAA schools from across the country, and although the number of teams were down, the competition was not as the Lions were looking for their program's first podium finish.

With history a short 25-29 minutes away, the Lions boldly toed the line. They were led once again by their fearless freshman, Zackery Hammond, who paced the hilly 8k in 30-degree weather with the time of 26:16.18 which was good enough for 3rd place overall. He was followed closely by fellow Lion, Adrian Cedillo (Sr.) who blazed through the finish line with the time of 26:41.05 and a 10th place finish. Their top 10 finish earned them the program's first and second NCCAA All-American awards. Head Coach Jason Covarrubias on his first two runners, “What can I say, these gentlemen are proof that hard work still works and today hard work got rewarded! I am extremely proud of them and it's pretty cool to witness the program's 1st All-American cross the line and then second one join him 25 seconds later!”

The Lions next three runners gutted and fought hard the entire race as they chased their goal of being one of the top four teams honored at the award podium. Cody Walker (Jr.) was the third lion to finish the rugged 8k with the time of 28:09.99 in 30th place. He was followed by captain Robert Herrera (R-So.) four places after with the time of 28:31, and freshman Arturo Valdez rounded out the top 5 in 46th place with the time of 29:17.34. Freshmen, David Burciaga and Jose Alvarez also finished the most difficult course the Lions have raced on in 57th and 63rd place, respectively.

Fifteen minutes after the last runner crosses the line; the official team results were posted naming Biola University the 2018 NCCAA National Champion with 25 points, runner-up was the Tigers from Campbellsville University with 51 points, 3rd the Troll of Trinity Christian College with 91 points, and the final podium spot was award to the Lions from Southwestern Assemblies of God University with 104 points. Covarrubias, “This is the best we have ever finished. It was our goal from day one to not leave here empty handed and as I tell them every day, this won't be the last one either. Today, was a historical day for these men.”