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MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY GAINING GROUND FAST MUSTANGS RANKED NO. 19 IN NATION.

Byline: CHARLES KALOUSTIAN Special to the Daily News

For the first time in program history, the NAIA ranked the Mustangs No. 19 in the nation Wednesday.

Only receiving 12 votes Sept. 27 and with the GSAC Championships approaching, the men's team is quickly gaining ground just as fast in the national rankings as it is on the countryside courses.

Athletic director Paul Berry has high hopes for cross country coach Zach Schroeder.

``Zach has come in and done his job,'' Berry said. ``He has good guys that are committed to working hard. Developing their camaraderie. Zach has been the focal point of the team.''

Which is a big accomplishment for second-season coach Schroeder, who has helped direct the Mustangs to place in the top 10 in their past three invitationals.

After this season, Schroeder will be losing one senior, Ryan Smith (Lancaster), leaving underclassmen Travis Hobbs, Kyle Robinson, Tim Smith (Lancaster) and Jeff Jackson, who own four of the top five times in school history, to carry the team next year.

Athletic director rewarded: Since joining The Master's College in 2001, athletic director Paul Berry has created a buzz in collegiate athletics.

With more than 20 years' administration experience at the college level, Berry has been recently recognized by NAIA Region II members as Athletic Director of the Year for his success during the 2005-2006 athletic year.

``He's very well known not only in this league but in the rest of the country,'' said men's basketball coach Chuck Martin. ``His responsibility to the school and to the people he hires results in building a strong NAIA program. ''

Berry has been an influential part in the strength of the college's athletic programs by improving the conditions for athletes and for the fans.

``In my first year, we renovated the aged gym floors,'' said Berry. ``Our next project is to expand the gym and possibly add a practice gym.''

Within five years of his administration, he has spearheaded the installation of the Bross Gym floors and also added synthetic field turf at Reese Field where the baseball and soccer teams play.

Other than rejuvenating the athletic department, Berry's success is reflected by the hiring of committed coaches and is vital to the growth of the school's athletic programs, according to Martin.

charles.kaloustian(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 6, 2006
Words:384
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