Aggies Record Top Five Team Finishes at Arturo Barrios Invitational

COLLEGE STATION, TX - October 16, 2021 - during the Arturo Barrios Invitational at Watts Cross...
COLLEGE STATION, TX - October 16, 2021 - during the Arturo Barrios Invitational at Watts Cross Country Course in College Station, TX. Photo By Aiden Shertzer/Texas A&M Athletics(Aiden Shertzer | Aiden Shertzer)
Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 1:24 PM CDT
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BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas –  In a field of nearly 35 teams, the Texas A&M men’s and women’s cross country teams recorded top-5 placings, while Eric Casarez finished runner-up in the men’s race Saturday at the Arturo Barrios Invitational at the Dale Watts Cross Country Course.

“It was an ok meet,” distance coach Wendel McRaven said. “It was the first time that we’ve ran with a lot of teams and a lot of competitors. I think it was a good test for us. That’s why we host this meet, we want to get tested a little bit. We weren’t perfect by any means, but we had some good things happen.”

Running in cool mid-60 degree weather, Texas A&M’s Casarez got out to a hot start leading for the majority of the race before falling to second overall in the last 2,000m to finish the 8,000m course at 23:34.2.

“Eric [Casarez] ran well, I think he wanted to keep that winning streak alive,” McRaven said. “It’s good we got tested this week and got beat a little bit by some people, it helps keep us hungry going into the SEC Championships.”

Casarez led the Aggies to an overall fifth place team finish at 204 points. Gavin Hoffpauir, Joseph Benn and Brady Grant each recorded top 50 finishes. Hoffpauir clocked 24:35.7 at 46th, Benn 47th at 24:36.0 and Grant placed 48th with a time of 24:37.4. Victor Zuniga rounded out the top five scorers for Texas A&M finishing 66th overall at 24:51.2.

“We ran ok,” said McRaven. “We were just never up far enough and maybe that’s my fault, I really emphasized them to be patient. We’ll work on that and be a little sharper for the SEC Championships.”

Paced by Julia Black and Abbey Santoro with top 20 finishes, the Aggie women’s team finished fourth at 150 points. Black completed the 6,000m course with a time of 20:57.3 at 13th overall, followed by Santoro at 16th with a time of 21:00.0.

The senior duo, along with Grace Plain, Maddie Livingston and Gemma Goddard collectively ran together moving positions between 15th and 30th for the first 5,000m. It was with a little less than 600m to go, Plain faltered from 20th to out of the top 100.

“We were running really well,” McRaven said. “We kept closing the gap and then all of a sudden we were fourth in the team standings. Julia [Black], Abbey [Santoro], Gemma [Goddard] and Maddie [Livingston] were all fine and then I couldn’t find Grace [Plain] in the results…Just our fifth falling back so far is what hurt us a little bit. It is ok, we are going to learn from that and get better. We know that we have to be deeper than just five runners. Our six, seven and eight runners are really important in case we have a day where our fifth runner falls behind.”

Livingston finished 28th at 21:24.1, followed by Goddard at 38th with a time of 21:33.1. Katelyn Buckley rounded out the top five scorers for the Maroon & White at 59th place clocking 21:48.7

Next Up

Texas A&M is off from competition next week before heading to Columbia, Missouri, on Oct. 29 to compete in the Southeastern Conference Championships.

Texas A&M Quotes

Distance Coach Wendel McRaven

on preparing for the SEC Championships…

“Most of the work is done for the most part. We’ll have another good week of training next week. More than anything, it’s not as much being physically ready as it is being mentally prepared for what we have to do. The physical work has been for the most part. They’ve been working really hard this season.”

Eric Casarez

on today’s meet…

“It was good to have a lot of competition before the SEC Championships. This is the biggest meet we’ve had all season. It’s a building a step and I feel like a lot of people learned a lot today. I learned a lot today. We’re excited to be heading into championship season now.”

To learn more about Texas A&M Track & Field/Cross Country, log on to and follow @aggietfxc.