Zola Sokhela of Westmont is first across the finish line at The Master's Invitational. (Westmont Athletics)

Westmont’s Zola Sokhela out-kicked Jack Anderson of The Master’s to win the men’s cross country race at The Master’s Invitational on Saturday morning.

Sokhela won the 8k race in 24:08.2 while Anderson finished in 24:08.7.

“This race was personal for me,” revealed Sokhela. “The fitness was showing in training, and we were in a good mental space as a team. All I had to do was execute my race plan, which played really well with the course we had. A flat 8K course is a playground for me, and I definitely played toward my strengths.”

In the team competition, Westmont’s men finished seventh out of 22 schools; the women can in ninth in a 16-team field.

Sokhela followed the game plan set up by coach Russell Shelley.

“Coach Smelley and I had been talking throughout the week that I have to be patient until the end, and make the last decisive move,” said Sokela. “That’s exactly what I did. Winning 0:00.8 is closer than I would’ve liked, but it also shows the patience that I had.

“Overall, I’m very pleased and it’s only a step in the right direction. I’m content, but not satisfied.”

Behind Sokhela, junior transfer Bryce Gardhouse turned in another stellar race, this time finishing in 23rd place with a time of 24:57.3. The next Warrior to finish was Ryan Daedler in 65th place (25:52.0), followed by Thomas Reed in 71st (25:57.5). Rounding out Westmont’s top-five finishers was Luke Hein, who came in 84th place with a time of 26:08.2.

In the women’s 5K, Anneline Breytenbach was Westmont’s best finisher as the captain came in 44th place with a time of 23:11.7. Behind Breytenbach, Gretchen Scherrei finished in 62nd (24:41.3), and Dulce Esquival finished in 73rd (23:54.0). Westmont’s fourth and fifth runners were Miriam Melkonian in 74th (23:58.7), and Molly Sandridge in 85th (24:15.1). 

The Warriors will return to competition on October 7

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.