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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

A&M shines in new home course debut

PROVIDED+BY+AGGIE+ATHLETICS
PROVIDED BY AGGIE ATHLETICS

The sun rising above Dale Watts Cross Country Course cued the start of the Texas A&M Invitational and marked the beginning of a new era for Aggie cross country.
Running the brand new course — the only major course in the south dedicated to cross country, said head coach Pat Henry — the men claimed first and the women came in third.
To start the morning, senior Isaac Spencer won the men’s 6,000 meter with an official time of 18 minutes, 17.5 seconds. He pulled through on the final stretch of the race to put himself 5 seconds ahead of Texas Tech’s Evans Tuitoek and Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Philipp Baar. His final charge gave him the individual title and helped the men claim the team title.
“Isaac just ran a smart race. He’s a veteran,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “He’s been a national qualifier in cross country, he’s been a national qualifier on the track. He knows what he’s doing out there. That’s how he ran, like a veteran. I was really pleased with that.”
McRaven said he expects a lot from the upperclassmen and expects them to lead by example and to be vocal.
“[Spencer] works hard, he does things the right way and then he can talk to people, too, and talk to his teammates,” McRaven said. “That’s always good to have.”
Sophomore Austin Wells finished fifth overall for the Aggies, putting up a time of 18 minutes, 36.4 seconds. Next came seniors Ryan Miller (18:58), claiming 13th, Austin Geerts (19:06.1) at 16th and senior Colin Slattery (19:10.5) in 19th.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but in my last year I just want to be out there running with my teammates,” said fifth-year senior Slattery. “Our first big race of the season is a week from now, so we made sure not to waste too much mental or physical energy today.”
The men fought through the mud to finish with a total of 54 points, giving them a two-point lead over Lamar and a 40-point cushion over third-place Stephen F. Austin.
The Aggie women came out to claim third place in the 4,100-meter race despite taking the top three spots. Seniors Hillary Montgomery and Grace Fletcher posted times of 13:44.7 and 13:49.5. Following close behind was sophomore Karis Jochen (13:53.7) in third.
Lamar claimed the women’s team title with 45 points, followed by Baylor with 57, leaving A&M to claim third with 71 points.
“We’ve been doing a lot more teamwork. Our top three has been training really closely together,” said Hillary Montgomery, commenting on the Montgomery-Fletcher-Jochen threesome. “I think that’s made a huge difference.”
The Aggies have a brand new course this year.
“People don’t normally know what cross country is, or they haven’t really heard of it, so it’s cool how we have a home course so that our whole Aggie family can come out and support us. That really helps us run a lot faster,” Montgomery said.
McRaven said the course offers a good mix for runners and spectators.
“It’s really phenomenal to have this kind of setting,” McRaven said. “I think it’s the perfect combination of being a good spectator course, it can have people in this area to see a lot of the race while at the same time being a really good course that runners like. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Henry said the new course allows the team to avoid coordination issues with other teams and campus events.
This whole venue here is just to run cross country on,” said Henry, now in his 11th season as head coach. “We don’t have to worry about golfers anymore, we don’t have to worry about intramural sports, we don’t have to worry about anything. This is where we want to be.”
The new course could open the door for A&M to host major events, Henry said.
“Most of the national championships, in fact all of them recently, have been run back east, and in the middle of November it’s cold,” Henry said. “We want to provide another venue where the NCAA in the middle of November could say, ‘Probably going to be warm in College Station, let’s think about running the national championship in College Station, Texas.’ That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

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