Chung qualifies for Nationals as men finish third, women fourth at South Central Regional
COLLGE STATION, Texas – Jonathan Chung’s sixth-place finish led the Aggie men to finish third, while the women placed fourth at the South Central Regional at the Dale Watts Cross Country Course Friday morning.
Chung, a sophomore, ran with the top pack throughout the entirety of the 10,000m course, surging at the 7,700m mark to move into the fifth position. At the 9,000m mark, he held his place before settling into sixth as he crossed the finish line in 30:35.1.
Finishing as the first of four non-team qualifying individuals, Chung earned a trip to the national meet. He is the first member of the Aggie men’s team to qualify for the NCAA meet since teammate Eric Casarez in 2019.
“He ran a fearless race,” distance coach Wendel McRaven said. “He went from being the team’s fifth finisher at the Southeastern Conference meet, to getting sixth overall today at the regional meet. He took a chance, and it paid off.”
Casarez (15th, 31:13.1) and Gavin Hoffpauir (20th, 31:23.0) finished as top-25 individuals to earn All-Region honors, along with Chung. Chandon Chhikara (26th, 31:34.8) and Siddharth Jayaraman (32:02.0) rounded out the scorers for the men, while Francesco Romano (54th, 32:35.5) and Joseph Benn (70th, 33:06.7) also sported the Maroon and White.
Arkansas (49) and Texas (55) were the top two teams, each earning an automatic qualifier for the NCAA championship meet. The Aggies followed in third with 108 points, while Arkansas State (228) and Tulane (244) also earned top five finishes.
Earning All-Region honors for the second consecutive year, Abbey Santoro (16th, 20:54.6) and Julia Abell (18th, 21:03.9) led the way for the women’s fourth-place finish. Maddie Livingston (33rd, 21:21.2), Kennady Fontenot (40th, 21:29.3) and Mary Grace Rodriguez (49th, 21:49.5) rounded out the team’s top five, while Dierdre Nelsen (56th, 21:59.6) and Grace Plain (67th, 22:11.9) also competed for the Aggies.
Arkansas (49) and Texas (102) took the top two spots in the team standings, while LSU edged out the Aggies for third, 154 to 156. SMU also earned a top five finish with 169 points.
“We put ourselves out there,” Coach McRaven said. “We were in second place with a mile to go, then blew up a bit. We’re a little disappointed in the outcome, but I’m proud of all the girls. This is a group that really wanted to qualify for the NCAA meet and we put ourselves in a position to be successful.”
Jonathan Chung will represent the Aggie cross country team as he competes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma on November 19.
Distance Coach Wendel McRaven
On Jonathan Chung qualifying for nationals...
“That may have been the performance of the day. He went from being the team’s fifth runner at the Southeastern Conference meet, to getting sixth overall at the regional meet today. He ran a fearless race. He’s a guy that’s put in the work and is reaping the benefits of it. He might be a 10k guy after all. I’m really proud of him. He took a chance, and it paid off.”
On the women’s team...
“We put ourselves out there. We were in second place with a mile to go, then blew up a bit. We’re a little disappointed in the outcome, but I’m proud of all the girls. This is a group that really wanted to qualify for the NCAA meet and we put ourselves in a position to be successful.”
On the Aggie men’s All-Region runners...
“Jonathan Chung, Eric Casarez and Gavin Hoffpauir were All-Region on the men’s side. I know Eric is disappointed in his race, but he put himself out there and we’ll take this result. Gavin just continues to prove he’s a gamer. Chandon Chhikara, running his first regional race ever, only missed being All-Region by four tenths of a second.”
On the women’s All-Region runners...
“It’s fantastic to see Julia Abell and Abbey Santoro continue to lead this program, along with Grace Plain. That group is always solid as a rock. It’s good to see them run solid and leave their legacy behind on the program. They’ve built the culture we have right now.”
Head Coach Pat Henry
On The Aggies’ Performance and Jonathan Chung...
“Our athletes competed well. In this sport, anything can happen on any day. Jonathan Chung is not usually our top finisher, but today he was. That’s what it’s about. I’m ecstatic for the day he had.”
On the Watts Cross Country Course hosting the regional meet...
“There’s no better course in the country, we’re very fortunate. We built a great course back in 2012 and it’s still thriving. People love coming here and you can feel the Aggie presence on race day.”
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