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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One step away
June 8, 2024

A&M cross country returns several runners to SEC Championships

The Texas A&M cross country team will travel to Lexington, Kentucky to compete in the SEC Championships on Friday.
Nine men and 12 women will represent A&M in the conference title meet at the Kentucky Horse Park – Steeplechase Loop. Of the Aggies, five men and 10 women have previous experience in the meet.
“On the men’s side, on paper, it looks like Ole Miss is the heavy favorite and then appears fairly wide open after them,” A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven said. “Alabama and Arkansas have really good teams, then there are a bunch of teams right there in the mix, maybe within a few points of each other.”
Seniors Kelsie Warren and Ashley Driscoll are among the women returning, and both have been the top two finishers for A&M in the SEC meet for the past two years.
“Both Kelsie and Ashley started coming into their own during track season, scoring in the conference meet indoors in the 5,000 and 3,000, then outdoors in the 10,000 and coming close in the 5,000,” McRaven said. “They’ve continued that momentum this fall and look like they should be battling in the top-10 at the SEC meet. It’s great to see that progression over the years come to fruition.”
Along with Warren and Driscoll, Laura Barrientos will run in her fourth conference meet, while redshirt junior Ashton Hutcherson will compete in her third. Senior Olivia Arriaza also returns to the SEC Championships, last competing in 2017.
For the men, Eric Casarez is looking to finish strong in his first collegiate postseason race. Casarez has led the men in the past two meets, finishing third overall at Missouri and sixth in the Arturo Barrios Invitational.
“For Eric, the key is not getting too excited about his first SEC meet, since this will be his first championship meet overall,” McRaven said.
Along with Casarez, senior Jon Bishop looks to continue the momentum he’s garnered in 2019. He missed last year’s SEC meet and was the second Aggie finisher in 2017, placing 23rd.
“For the other guys, they just need to continue the momentum they’ve had this season,” McRaven said. “Jon Bishop is one of those guys. He’s like a snowball rolling downhill and picks up momentum as he goes along. That’s been the way he does things since he’s been here.”
Returning runners Wes McPhail, Gavin Hoffpauir, and Harrison Tillman finished fourth, fifth and ninth respectively in last year’s SEC race.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have three first-timers competing in Friday’s championship. On the men’s side, redshirt junior Johnathon Blaine, freshman Colton Colonna and redshirt sophomore Joel Potter will compete, while sophomore Laura Fairchild, redshirt sophomore Sarah Pia and sophomore Grace Plain will represent the women.
The Aggies will compete for the conference title starting at 8 a.m. on Friday.

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