Westmont standout Zola Sokhela, an NAIA All-American last year, opens this season as GSAC Runner of the Month. (Courtesy photo)

After three top-ten finishes in September, Westmont’s Zola Sokhela has been named one of the three recipients of the Golden State Athletic Conference Runner of the Month award. The sophomore standout joins Brint Laubach of The Master’s and Evan Hernandez of Vanguard as September recipients.

Sokhela is no stranger to accolades, as the continuously rising-star has already won three individual National Championships in Track and Field, and has been named an NAIA All-American in cross country as well (2021).

“Zola has done a very good job of reevaluating the way he races,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. “He’s reevaluated his commitment and what he’s willing to put into a race. That commitment showed up last weekend, when he ran the best race of his collegiate career.”

Sokhela opened up his sophomore campaign with a fourth-place finish at the Lagoon Invite on September 3, posting a time of 25:30.07. Sokhela followed up the race with another single-digit finish, this time coming in eighth-place with a time of 26:15.9 at the Vanguard Invitational on September 9.

As Smelley stated, the sophomore saved his best for last on September 24th at the Cougar Challenge, where 206 runners competed in an 8K. Sokhela ran the fastest cross country race of his collegiate career, coming in third place with a time of 24:24.6.

“I want to see Zola take a chance on winning a race,” offered Smelley. “He took a shot at it last weekend and he ran a great race. I want to see him continue to put himself in that position, and eventually, take advantage of the opportunity.”

Sokhela has two more chances to prepare himself for the postseason, with the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on October 8, and the Titan Invitational on October 21. Then, on November 5, Sokhela and the Warriors will compete in Rocklin at the GSAC Championships.