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Abbey Santoro leads Aggies into weekend meet

Junior+Abbey+Santoro%26%23160%3Bhad+the+highest+individual+finish+at+LSU+for+the+A%26amp%3BM+women+at+18th.
Courtesy of Tyler Pounds/Texas A&M Athletics

Junior Abbey Santoro had the highest individual finish at LSU for the A&M women at 18th.

Following an impressive showing at the SEC Preview Meet at LSU, the No. 5 ranked Texas A&M men’s and No. 10 women’s cross country teams are looking to build upon their success as they head into the second meet of the season.
The Aggies will travel to Missouri to compete in the Gans Creek Classic on Oct. 3, running an 8,000 and 6,000-meter race in preparation for the SEC Championships in late October.
A&M coach Wendel McRaven said last week’s meet gave the Aggies an idea of how they need to improve as they move deeper into the conference slate. Arkansas and Ole Miss are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in both the men’s and women’s rankings.
“The biggest takeaway is that we got the chance to compete against the two top teams in the SEC on the men’s side and probably the top two teams on the women’s side as well,” McRaven said. “It tells us where we’ve got work to do to close the gap on them.”
On the women’s side, the Aggies competed with a reduced roster in Baton Rouge due to COVID-19 protocol. McRaven said right now he has no reason to think the full women’s team won’t be competing in Missouri.
“Obviously right now we’re expecting to be at full strength, but a week before LSU I thought we would be fine on the women’s side but then got a message that eight girls would be out due to contact tracing,” McRaven said. “That’s just 2020 right there. We know we have to deal with it. It’s part of the game, and we know things won’t be perfect.”
Junior Abbey Santoro had the highest individual finish at LSU for the A&M women at 18th but said she hoped for a better team result.
“The first race was good, but obviously it wasn’t the outcome we wanted,” Santoro said. “We knew the odds weren’t in our favor going into the race because we didn’t have everyone competing but personally, I was happy with how my race went.”
McRaven said what is most impressive about Santoro is her diligence and preparation in training.
“She took advantage of the time when everything was in lockdown,” McRaven said. “[Ashley Driscoll] ran a lot with her over the spring and the summer, and I think she learned a lot about what it takes to be successful at this level.”
Santoro took advantage of the shortened outdoor season, spending the spring and summer training with Driscoll, her roommate.
“Having someone to train with who qualified for nationals and who was extremely successful during her time at A&M was one of the best experiences that came out of COVID,” Santoro said. “I definitely have seen a lot of improvements and I feel a lot fitter this season than I have in the past.”
McRaven said redshirt freshman Teddy Radtke was a standout at the LSU meet on the men’s side, placing 17th behind junior Eric Casarez in fifth.
“Teddy is an example of what’s really great about our sport,” McRaven said. “Everybody works hard when they’re on campus and have a coach telling them what to do. Where progress is made in our sport is that time when they aren’t with us, and Teddy has proven that.”
Radtke said having Casarez as a team leader is a significant advantage for the young A&M men’s team.
“It’s definitely good to have people like [Casarez] guiding us, having all the new freshmen look up to him,” Radtke said. “It definitely helps because he’s been doing it for a while, so any advice he has for us younger guys we take to heart. We have a lot of young guys looking to make a difference, so I’m excited.”
Heading into the Missouri meet, Radtke said he wants to continue to improve upon the progress he made at LSU.
“I’m hoping to do what I did last week and hopefully make a difference for the team and pull some of these younger guys with us,” Radtke said.
For Santoro, she said a key for the women’s team heading into this weekend will be just getting to race with a full roster.
“I need to work on executing my race plan and going out harder than I did [at LSU],” Santoro said. “We’ll have our normal amount of people running at this meet, so that will help us compete, control the things we can control and have a good race.”
Editor’s Note: Abbey Santoro is a staff photographer for The Battalion.

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