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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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Lelei takes ninth, men place 18th at NCAAs

Texas A&M junior Henry Lelei took ninth place at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championship, leading the men’s team to finish 18th. Lelei earned All-America honors for his performance and said he exceeded his own expectations.
“Finishing top-10 was very good,” Lelei said. “I missed some training time this week, so to not run for four days, it’s amazing to me that I still did that well. If I had my normal training this week, I think I would have been in the top three. My plan wasn’t to take the lead at any point, but to stay with the lead pack all the time.”
Lelei started the race with the lead pack and finished the 10,000-meter course in 29:29.1 to defeat Oklahoma State runners Colby Lowe (10th, 29:31.4) and German Fernandez (11th, 29:32.9). Lowe and Fernandez finished 1-2 in front of Lelei’s third-place performance at the Big 12 Championships.
“Henry ran a great race and put himself in a good position,” said A&M assistant track coach Wendel McRaven. “He stayed patient and was in a really good position throughout the race. Then he had to be tough over the last 2k, and he was able to hold onto a top-10 position.”
A&M entered the meet ranked No. 22 before turning in one of the best finishes in school history. The Aggie men finished ahead of 58 percent of the field, which topped their best of 39 percent in tying for 19th in 2003. In 1961, the A&M men set the school record by placing 12th at nationals but only 14 teams competed.
Wisconsin won the team title with 97 team points, Oklahoma State took second (139) and Colorado placed third (144). Three points separated A&M (471 team points) and Georgetown (474), which placed 17th. Fellow Big 12 Conference members competing were sixth-place Oklahoma (213) and 11th-place Texas (341).
The next Aggies to cross the line were senior MacLean O’Donnell (113th), senior Kevin Burnett (151st), senior James Hodges (157th), junior C.J. Brown (172nd), junior Stephen Curry (185th) and freshman Isaac Spencer (200th).
Junior Natosha Rogers represented A&M in the women’s race, finishing the 6,000-meter course in a time of 20:41.7 for 57th. She posted the fourth-best finish among South Central region competitors behind SMU’s Silje Fjortoft (13th in 19:58.1), Becky Wade of Rice (23rd in 20:10.8) and Arkansas’ Kristen Gillespie (31st, 20:21.9).
Last season, Rogers finished 164th in 21:53.1 at the national meet. She said the improvement is reassuring but she will raise the bar for next season.
“I finished over a hundred places better this time, so that was awesome,” Rogers said. “I was hoping to finish in the top 40 for All-America honors, but next year it’s going to happen for sure.”

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