BRYAN COLLEGE STATION, Texas The Texas A&M Mens and Womens Cross Country programs hosted the only race of the season, finishing third in the men’s standings and fourth in the women’s standings in the Arturo Barrios Invitational at Watts Cross Country Course.
The Arturo Barrios Invitational was made up of seven teams from three different conferences and nearly 140 athletes, the largest field Texas A&M has seen this season.
Over the past 10 days, there have been a few hiccups in preparation for this meeting, head coach Pat Henry said. Having different testing protocols for each conference posed some obstacles, it is something that needs to get better in the future, or competition between conferences will be less likely. Understandably, you are concerned about everyone’s safety, but not all in alignment is not a good situation.
It was great to host a meeting, said assistant coach Wendel McRaven. I think this is one of the top 5 courses in the country and one of the best in the region. It’s always positive to have the chance to show it off and make teams compete. Every coach was grateful and thanked me for this meeting.
In a field of 78 runners in the 8k men, Texas A&M came out of the gate with a strong start with three Aggies in the top 10 at 2,000 meters. Wes McPhail was the overall leader before being knocked off the trail around 3,500 meters, forcing the junior to retire from the race. Fellow junior Gavin Hoffpauir led the Maroon & White halfway through in 16th place, followed by a group of Aggies that were in the top 25.
Hoffpauir made one last push and jumped three places to cross the finish line first for A&M and 13th overall at 24: 29.2. Joseph Benn followed in 18th place (24: 49.0), Tim McElaney was 19th (24: 50.4) and Jackson Jett finished in 20th place (24: 51.0). Brady Grant rounded out the top 5 finishers for Texas A&M with a 22nd place (24: 52.8), while Teddy Radtke finished a top 25 in 24th place with a time of 24: 59.6.
The Aggie men scored 82 points, finishing third behind Texas (17) and LSU (63).
Have Wes [McPhail] drop out halfway through the race and don’t have Eric [Casarez] makes a difference in how we end up as a team, McRaven said. It is a really young team and to the people who queued, I said that I am really proud of this team. They get there and find out, it’s not perfect by the imagination yet, but they got there. If they can stay together and keep building that culture the way we want it to, then this could be a really good group later on.
Grace Plain led the Maroon & White in the 6k from the startbox, at the 2,000m split she was 11th overall at 6: 48.9. Julia Black and Abbey Santoro followed right behind in 13th and 14th places, while Megan Hopper, Rachel Bernardo and Carrie Fish each competed in the top 20.
Plain, Black, and Santoro continued on to the trail and held their positions halfway through. With less than 1,000 meters to go, Black kicked it to a top 10 finish and finished eighth overall at 21: 10.7. Santoro and Plain each placed in the top 15, Santoro clocked 21: 18.8 to finish 12th overall and Plain 13th at 21: 27.4. Bernardo and Laura Fairchild each made top 25 finishes to complete the top 5 finishers for A&M.
Weren’t where we want to be, but it was the best race of the year for them. Julia [Black], Grace [Plain] and Abbey [Santoro] ran very well, they close very well, said McRaven. Rachel [Bernardo] starts to come, Laura [Fairchild] is there and Katelyn [Buckley] did a good job as a freshman. Many people are showing progress and we have taken some positive steps, but we are certainly not where we want to be.
The women’s team finished fourth with 80 points behind Texas (23), LSU (52) and Baylor (76).
Texas A&M has a week to rest before traveling to compete in the SEC Championships on October 30. It will be the second trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Aggies this season.
For more information about Texas A&M Track & Field / Cross Country please log in 12thMan.com and follow @aggietfxc.
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