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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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‘Busting the rust off’: Men and women’s cross country season begins in Stillwater

Photo by Robert O’Brien

The Aggies stick together as they approach the 3km mark.

Texas A&M’s cross country team started its 2022 season with a second and third place finish at the Cowboy Preview, hosted by Oklahoma State on Thursday, Sept. 1.
The men’s team raced in its 5K at 8 a.m., while the women’s team began its 3K approximately half an hour later. Per the Texas A&M Track & Field/Cross Country Twitter, within the top-15 running times of the men’s 5K, five spots belonged to A&M. Junior Eric Casarez claimed the second-best time of 14:55.3, and transfer graduate student Chandon Chhikara took ninth place with a time of 15:10.3. The men’s team was able to take third place overall within the meet.
While the men were making it on the leaderboard in their 5K, according to AthleticLIVE’s coverage of the event, five Aggies from the women’s team placed in the top-25 running times of the 3K, with three seniors earning top 10 spots. Senior Grace Plain had the second best time of 10:39.7, senior Abbey Santoro seconds behind in fourth place with a time of 10:44.2 and senior Julia Abell in ninth with 10:49.2. The women’s team placed second against the competing teams.
“I think the race went really well,” Plain said. “I felt strong throughout the whole race, especially going into the finish, so I think that was a big confidence boost [to know] that summer training went well and that we’re in a good spot going into the rest of the season.”
After a sixth-place finish at the NCAA South Central Regional for the men and women last year, the team emerged from summer with a contagiously optimistic mindset, as well as a hunger to go farther than they did before — and if the Cowboy Preview serves as nothing more than an inside look on how the rest of the season will go, then Aggies have a lot to be excited about.
“As a team, we felt we did well today — obviously it’s a long season and we have a lot of room to improve, but it was good being out there, especially with that competition,” Chhikara said. “It’s definitely good to get that early exposure.”
The Cowboy Preview showcased the strength of many powerhouse SEC teams, like Arkansas and Oklahoma State, both of which Chhikara is looking forward to competing against as the season progresses.
“We usually open the season at home, so it’s nice to come to a new course and run against people we usually don’t see until later in the season. We knew there would be some good people here, and I think we competed really well,” distance coach Wendel McRaven told
“It was definitely — like most races — a mix of people who are really excited and people who were bummed about it, but no matter what, I think it was a good starting point for everybody,” Plain said.
The team maintained a low-pressure attitude during the races in an attempt to gauge the weaknesses they would need to improve upon for the upcoming season.
“We’re just going in and busting the rust off, getting back into racing,” Plain said.
While the Cowboy Preview may represent the start of the season for the Aggies, Chhikara was the first to admit that the team has a lot of work to do in order to prepare for their next meet on Sept. 16 at the Texas A&M Invitational.
We’re all going to take away the positives and the negatives,” Chhikara said.“We each have stuff that we need to work on, but I think we’re in a good spot.”
The team will have two weeks to prepare and improve before their next invitational in front of their home crowd in College Station.

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