The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M cross country in the hunt for berths at NCAA regionals

The Aggies look to qualify for the NCAA Championship race once again with a worthy performance this weekend.
Texas A&M cross country will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the NCAA South Central Region meet at noon Friday.
The contest will determine which runners will be invited to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., next week.
Schools from east Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana will attend the meet in search of glory. This year’s host, Arkansas, claimed both men’s and women’s team titles in 2013. The Aggie women finished third in their 6,000-meter race with 116 points, losing a tie-breaker to SMU by a mere hundredth of a second, causing them to miss out on the championship race. The men were seventh in their 10,000-meter race with 217 points.
In order to advance to Terre Haute, Texas A&M must finish as one of the top two teams in the region. They may also be selected pending a solid performance combined with a review of regular-season competition. The Aggies will be automatically nominated by finishing in the top four of their race or may be selected as at-large individuals.
A&M seniors Isaac Spencer and Hillary Montgomery each earned berths into the NCAA Championship race last season. Montgomery led the women, claiming sixth overall with a time of 20:27.0. Spencer placed eighth by posting a time of 30:22.4. A&M will be hunting for its 10th consecutive year to advance an individual or team to the national championship.
Coach Wendel McRaven said the Aggies have a good chance of claiming championship berths once again.
“On the women’s side, we have three individuals that have a very realistic opportunity of qualifying for nationals,” McRaven said. “On the men’s side, Isaac [Spencer] didn’t run very well at the SEC meet, but he has bounced back from performances like that before so he’s very capable of being in the top 10 and putting himself into position to qualify for nationals.”
In order to compete in nationals, the team will have to bring their A-game, which was missing at last weekend’s SEC Championships. The men placed eighth and the women sixth in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“On the men’s side, they did a really good job of fighting,” McRaven said. “They gathered themselves in the last mile of the race and they did a great job of fighting all the way to the finish. The top three women all really ran with confidence. Grace Fletcher just decided she wanted to have a great race instead of backing down.”
McRaven emphasizes the importance of implementing techniques learned in practice during the week. As Spencer and Montgomery battle for another NCAA berth, there is a chance they have teammates join them on the trip to Indiana. Completing the women’s trio, sophomore Kara Jochen and senior Grace Fletcher hold the potential to qualify for nationals. For the men, sophomore Austin Wells and senior Ryan Miller are contenders to advance.
“On the men’s side I’d like to see them do a better job of just executing what they do in training,” McRaven said. “We’ve done some things in training this year that indicate we’re fit and we’re pretty good. Our top four guys are all guys that scored highly on the SEC track. We’ve just gotten out of our race plan a little bit. We haven’t raced like we’ve wanted to. We need to relax early on, get into good position, and attack the second half of the race. On the women’s side, our top three look great. They just need to keep doing what they’re doing. They weren’t perfect in the SEC meet by any means, but all three of them are capable of finishing in the top 10. They’re running better and they’re starting to gain a little bit of confidence. If they can bring that into the regional meet, we’ll be up in the mix somewhere.”

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