ATHENS, Georgia – Texas A&M men claimed the team title at the Bulldog SEC Preview held Saturday on the University of Georgia golf course while the Aggie women produced a third-place team finish. A pair of fifth-place finishes led each squad as senior Alex Riba covered the men’s 8,000-meter course in 25 minutes, 38.3 seconds while sophomore Driscoll posted a time of 22:05.1 on the women’s 6,000-meter course.
It was the second team victory of the season for the Texas A&M men, who won the Aggie Opener a week ago. The Aggies totaled 49 points to capture the Bulldog SEC Preview title, with Georgia Tech runner-up at 56 and Tennessee in third with 69 points. The rest of the field included Georgia (78), Auburn (112), LSU (151), and Mercer (215).
“The main reason we came here was to see the course for the SEC Championships, so getting a win on the men’s side was a bonus,” noted Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “I told them last night in our meeting I thought they could win if we ran our race and competed hard.
“It was good to see how well they closed over the last half of the race. On a course like this, that is what you want to have happen. This is a unique course, being as hilly as it is, so it was good for our team to experience it.”
Georgia won the women’s team title with 19 points over Georgia Tech’s 49 while the Texas A&M women finished third with 76 points. The rest of the women’s field included South Carolina (125), Tennessee (127), LSU (155) and Mercer (207).
The Aggie men placed four runners among the top 10 on the challenging course. Christian Farris finished a second behind Riba in sixth place, clocking 25:39.5. Then another pair of Texas A&M runners placed ninth and 10th with Jon Bishop (25:45.0) and Ryan Yerrow (25:45.3) separated by a stride.
“We talk a lot about working together and running together as much as possible since we do it in training,” said McRaven. “We kind of controlled it a little bit at home last week in our first meet, but this week I gave them the green light to let it naturally evolve. They did a nice job doing that.”
Riba added: “It was a good race today and good to get on the course. We learned a lot and know what to expect when we come back for the conference meet. It was good to test ourselves against some SEC schools, but the conference competition we are worried about wasn’t here.”
Georgia’s Bryan Kamau won the men’s race in 25:20.2 over Tennessee’s Zach Long (25:22.4) with Georgia Tech’s Nahom Solomon (25:25.8) in third place. The top eight finishers included six seniors and two juniors. Bishop was the top sophomore in the race in ninth place while Yerrow was the leading freshman in 10th place among a field of 78 runners.
The next pair of Aggies to finish included Jacob Perry (25:59.5) and Zephyr Seagraves (26:06.1) as they placed 19th and 20th. Perry was the fifth runner for the Aggies to complete the team score. Seagraves was the sixth runner for Texas A&M as he finished ahead of two Georgia Tech runners.
Scoring places for the Aggies went 5-6-9-10-19 while Georgia Tech placed their first five runners among the top 15, producing scoring places of 3-11-13-14-15.
“Our 1 through 5 had a great spread today,” said Riba. “Now we’ll work on getting it a little closer the next time we race so we can move up as a pack and work together. It’s been great to work as a team throughout these last two races.”
Rounding out the Aggie squad were Taylor Clayton (40th, 26:40.4), Ryan Trahan (41st, 26:47.8) and Brandt Preston (47th, 27:02.5).
Georgia women enjoyed a 1-2 finish from sisters Jessica (21:10.7) and Samantha Drop (21:15.9) with Auburn’s Brenda Kigen (21:29.1) placing third among a field of 88 runners. A third Georgia runner claimed fourth place in 21:58.1, just eight seconds ahead of a strong closing Driscoll.
“I didn’t realize I was in the top five at the end of the race, but it was nice knowing I was moving up on the field,” said Driscoll. “It gives you more confidence as you pass each person. I’m excited to come back for the SEC meet, since I like hills. I think our whole team is pretty good at hills, so that will be an advantage for us.”
Driscoll moved up 10 places over the final 2k loop of the course to earn her top five finish.
“Ashley Driscoll just ran phenomenal and closed so well,” stated McRaven. “After being in 15th place at the start of the last loop, she ends up finishing fifth. She just rolled people up on the last part of the race. Ashley loves running hills, and gobbles up our hill workouts during practice. She came into the race with a positive attitude and excited about it being a hilly course.”
Following the leading effort by Driscoll, Kaitlin Tanner placed 15th with a time of 22:44.8 as Ashton Hutcherson (22:46.9) and Kelsey Persyn (22:47.8) finished 19th and 20th. Lauryn Barrientos (22:56.3) completed the Aggies team score as the fifth runner, placing 22nd.
“It was a good performance for the women, since we are still missing one from our top five with Kelsie Warren not racing today,” noted McRaven. “She will be a difference maker for us.
“Kaitlyn Tanner probably had her best cross country race of her college career. She’s another one who is more of a strength oriented runner. Hutcherson and Persyn also continue to be consistent.”
Hannah Campbell (23:07.2) placed 26th to claim the sixth position among the Aggies and was followed by Devin Norton (35th, 23:23.6), Lizette Chapa (40th, 23:30.0), and Maddie Vondra (52nd, 24:00.5).