COLLEGE STATION -- Practice began in earnest this week with early morning runs for the cross country team as they prepare for the first meet of the season, which takes place in Waco on Aug. 31.
Texas A&M has a squad of 44 runners out for the 2007 cross country season, which includes tryouts during the first couple weeks of practice.
The group consists of 18 women, who are led by junior Sarah Balfour and sophomore Merideth Snow, both of whom qualified for the NCAA Championships during their respective freshman seasons. Within a program that is continuing to build with each recruiting class, the Aggie women will have one senior, five juniors, seven sophomores and five freshmen competing this season.
The men field a squad 26 runners, led by senior Brian Duplechain and junior David Hebert, who is the top returning Aggie finisher from last season's conference and regional meets. Duplechain is the lone senior on the men's side with seven juniors, seven sophomores and 11 freshmen.
Early season regional rankings have the Aggie women No. 3 behind Arkansas and Baylor. It matches the order of finish from the 2006 South Central Regional when A&M just missed advancing a team to the NCAA Championships. Following Texas A&M in the women's regional poll are SMU, Lamar, Rice, Texas, TCU and SFA. The first men's regional poll of the season will be released on the Sept. 10 weekend.
The Aggies open the season with the Baylor Twilight Invitational next Friday (Aug. 31) at 6:30 p.m. Texas A&M will host its own Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Penberthy Intramural Field on the Aggie campus. In addition to the collegiate division, A&M also hosts one of the top high school fields in the state.
The remainder of the A&M schedule for the 2007 season includes the Notre Dame Invitational (Sept. 28), Chile Pepper Festival (Oct. 13) at the University of Arkansas, Big 12 Championships (Oct. 26) in Lubbock, South Central Regional (Nov. 10) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the NCAA Championships (Nov. 19) in Terre Haute, Indiana.