Aggies Place Third, Fifth at Season-Opening SEC Preview
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Texas A&M Cross Country men’s and women’s teams opened their 2020 seasons at the SEC Preview Meet on Saturday at the University Club on the LSU Campus.
Battling against a light rain in chilly 70 degree weather, the Aggie men placed third with 85 points, while the women finished fifth with 126 points. Arkansas swept the meet taking home the men’s and women’s title.
Eric Casarez paced the Aggie men in the 6k at 17:34.5. The redshirt sophomore jumped out to a quick start taking the lead at around the 2k mark with a 2:57.4 split. Casarez continued to battle in the top-3 through the 3k mark before finishing sixth overall.
“Eric ran very solid and competed with some of the best in the SEC,” said Assistant Coach Wendel McRaven. “He might’ve gotten a little aggressive early when took the lead, but six weeks from now I think he’s going to be battling those guys for a title. He’s one of the top five to 10 guys in the conference and he’s a national-level guy. This is good start for him.”
Redshirt freshman Teddy Radtke placed 17th (18:26.3), followed by true freshmen Cooper Cawthra in 22nd (18:35.1) and Jonathan Chung at 24th (18:39.1). Gavin Hoffpauir rounded out the top-5 finishers for A&M at 25th (18:44.9).
“We have a lot of young guys stepping up and filling roles of people who graduated or who are banged up right now,” Casarez said. “Once we all come full force we will perform better as a team. There is a lot to build off of from the first race of the season and we’re just excited for the opportunity to compete.”
A depleted women’s squad entered five Aggies in the 5k race with two Aggies earning spots in the top-20. Abbey Santoro and Julia Black paced A&M as Santoro finished 18th overall at 17:59.5 and Black was right behind in 20th with a time of 18:06.3. After a slow start battling the pack in the first 1,000m, the junior duo moved up seven spots at the 2k mark before maintaining their position throughout the race.
“Going into it we knew the women were going to be shorthanded, and you never like to enter a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back,” McRaven said. “I was pleased with Abbey and Julia, they know where they have work to do. They didn’t get out very aggressively and that cost them a little. They kept closing on people throughout the race and that is good, but between now and six weeks from now they need to be able to get out a little more aggressively.”
The Aggies will have the week off before traveling to Columbia, Missouri to compete in the Gans Creek Classic on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course.
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