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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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A&M’s cross country team to host SEC Championship meet in Aggieland

Cross+Country+Preview
Photo by: Kathryn Perez
Cross Country Preview

Texas A&M cross country will host the SEC Championship Friday at the Dale Watts Cross Country Course. The conference meet begins with the 8,000-meter men’s race at 10 a.m. followed by the women’s 6,000-meter race one hour later. After both races, there will be an awards ceremony held at 12 p.m.

The Aggies prepare to take on four nationally ranked teams at the conference meet with No. 8 Arkansas in the men’s race and No. 4 Arkansas, No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 26 Vanderbilt competing in the women’s race.

“We’re excited to have people come out to the SEC Championships on our new venue and see what we have to offer,” assistant coach Wendel McRaven said. “We’re excited to be competing at home in a championship event.” 

In past SEC Championship meets, Texas A&M finished sixth in women’s in 2014 and was the runner-up in 2013. On the men’s side they finished eighth for two consecutive years. Both A&M  teams are led by juniors — Karis Jochen for the women and Cameron Villarreal for the men. The Aggies have high expectations as they continue to improve as a team.

“Our men are really coming on while our women are lacking a little depth,” McRaven said. “Our goal is to keep getting better and try to improve upon last year.”

The Aggies will be challenged by a slate of conference teams, some of which they have already competed against this season. Arkansas enters Friday’s meet holding the SEC Championship team and individual titles for the past two years and look strong coming off their third-place finish at the Pre-Nationals. Mississippi State recently placed fifth at Pre-Nationals, finishing first among SEC schools while Vanderbilt aims to improve from their second place finish last year.

Junior Karis Jochen will be closely watched coming off of two major wins at the Texas A&M Invitational and the Crimson Classic. Jochen, who has run strong all season, will have the support of local family and friends and hopes to claim the individual title at Friday’s meet. 

“Karis has been awesome and it’s great to have a local kid doing so well,” McRaven said. “Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd out there who want to see her run.”

Villarreal also ran well this season with two top-ten finishes at the Notre Dame Invitational and the  Crimson Classic. The men’s team, who finished second to Oklahoma State at the Crimson Classic, has continued to progress entering the championship races.

“We’ve grown as a team this season,” McRaven said. “It’s the strongest I’ve seen it since I’ve been at A&M.”

Joining Villarreal are Austin Wells, Ryan Teel, Christian Farris and Elliott Farris. This season, Alex Riba has been integral to the team and has consistently scored in the top three for the Aggies. 

Other women returning this season from last year’s conference meet include Haley Deakins, Laura Craig and Katie Pia. The transfer student from TCU, Arin Rice, has been vital to the women’s performance as the team’s second runner. Rounding off the top seven runners are Kelsey Persyn, Katie Watson, Emily Willingham, Kaitlin Tanner, Lauren Fontana, Hannah Campbell, Devin Norton and Shelby McNeel.

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  • Cross Country Preview

    Photo by: Kathryn Perez
  • Cross Country Preview

    Photo by: Kathryn Perez
  • Cross Country Preview

    Photo By: Kathryn Perez
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