Aggies return to Louisiana for SEC Championships
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- The Texas A&M Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams return to the Bayou State for the SEC Championships on Friday at the University Club.
“When we get to this time of the year, whether it’s the SEC, regional or national meet, the athletes that are there are ready to run their best race of the year when it matters the most,” assistant coach Wendel McRaven said.
The Aggie women run the 6k course at 9:05 a.m., followed by the men’s 8k race at 10 a.m. The women’s race includes all 14 SEC teams, while the men’s field features 12 squads. In 2019, the Aggie men placed fifth and the women ninth. Jon Bishop, Kelsie Warren and Ashley Driscoll each earned All-SEC honors in their respective races.
HOW TO KEEP UP
The meet is set to air on the SEC Network, while updates will be provided on Twitter (@aggietfxc) and a live results link will be posted on 12thMan.com. Admission to the meet is free and all fans are required to wear face masks and physical distancing is mandatory. Parking is available at the L’Auberge Casino and Hotel (777 L’Auberge Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70820). Shuttles to and from University Club begin at 7 a.m. and run until 12:30 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
A&M was last in action Oct. 17 as it hosted the Arturo Barrios Invitational. Gavin Hoffpauir led the men’s team finishing 13th overall, while Julia Black placed eighth in the women’s race. It was the third time that a different Aggie finished first for each team in the season. In the team standings, the men placed third and women fourth.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
Junior Eric Casarez on missing All-SEC honors by one position in 2019…
“It’s always been in the back of my mind. Last year I was disappointed with the way I raced at the SEC Championships. I like to take it as a great experience as my first year as an Aggie but now I have less pressure on myself. I’m more focused on myself, I had a great summer of training and a great start to the season despite a little bit of a setback. I’ve stayed focused on the goal and I think if I compete at my best I can run against anybody in this conference. I have faith that before I get out of here that I’m going to be an SEC Champion whether that is on the cross country course or on the track. I’m just taking it one year at a time, one meet at a time and control what I can control.”
Junior Julia Black on the women’s team goal…"It’s hard going into a meet and knowing that the defending national champions are in the same race, we can’t put our focus on that. We can’t sell ourselves short because we are a good team and we want to finish better than we have in years past. Focusing on an overall team improvement from last season is our main goal."
Six of the 10 runners for A&M are making their SEC Championships debut. Eric Casarez returns as the top Aggie finisher from last season’s championships after placing 15th overall as Zephyr Seagraves followed in 16th.
“Sometimes ignorance is bliss,” McRaven stated. “The majority of our team has no SEC meet experience so part of that is ‘Hey let’s just go in there and do what we’ve been doing all year.’ I will let them know it is a little bit different of a beast because we haven’t ran in a meet this year with more than seven teams. You just have to stay cool, keep your calm, focus on what you’re doing and not get overwhelmed by the moment. In the end it’s just running, it’s not like you’re trying to do something you’re not capable of doing.”
The Aggie women’s squad enter nine runners, including seven with previous SEC Championships experience. Freshmen Katelyn Buckley and Mary Rodriguez are the lone Aggies making their SEC Championships debut.
“Our goal is to have the top three girls to lay down the foundation and put themselves in a position to run well and then we really need our four and five to step up,” said McRaven. “We have the talent and ability, we have about three or five girls that interchange in that fourth and fifth spot for us. That’s where our strength is going to be, what our one-to-five gap can be.”