LEXINGTON, Kentucky -- Texas A&M men finished fifth while the Aggie women were ninth at the SEC Cross Country Championships, held on the Kentucky Horse Park – Steeplechase Loop Friday morning, with Jon Bishop and Kelsie Warren leading the respective squads.
On the men’s side, Mississippi defeated Alabama for the men's team title, 35 to 90, with Arkansas third at 121. Rounding out the standings among the men's teams were Kentucky (124), Texas A&M (141), Florida (160), Missouri (162), LSU (220), Tennessee (221), Vanderbilt (239), Georgia (261) and Auburn (269).
"This was a very solid race for the men. Jon [Bishop], Eric [Casarez] and Zephyr [Seagraves] did a great job rolling together and moving up," stated assistant coach Wendel McRaven. "For Jon to earn his first all-SEC as a senior is fantastic. Being only 20 points out of third is a positive and gives us a carrot to chase in preparation for the regional meet in two weeks. Ultimately, we had too big of a gap from our number-three man to our fourth and fifth man. Wes McPhail and Gavin Hoffpauir were involved in a collision early in the race that resulted in Gavin losing his shoe and then stopping to put it back on.”
Bishop finished 14th in the men's race to lead a pack of Aggies that finished 14th thru 16th, covering the 7,820m distance, in 23:23.7, the second fastest time by an Aggies at the SEC Championship trailing only Henry Lelei’s championship time of 23:30.0 in 2012. Sophomore Eric Casarez finished on Bishop’s heals in 15th, 23:24.5, followed by junior Zephyr Seagraves in 16, 23:25.0.
Rounding out the scorers for the Aggies were sophomore Wes McPhail (24:18.7) in 47th and Johntahon Blaine (24:33.6) in 55th. Harrison Tillman led the rest of the Aggie crew, placing 65th (24:40.5) followed by Colton Colonna (24:41.4) in 66th, Gavin Hoffpauir (25:02.9) in 82nd and Joel Potter (25:14.1) in 87th.
Arkansas women, ranked No. 1 nationally, claimed a seventh consecutive team title with a tally of 24 points followed by Ole Miss (93), Missouri (159), Tennessee (170) and Alabama (171) to round out the top five. Vanderbilt (176) finished in sixth followed by Kentucky (179), Georgia (184), Texas A&M (189), Auburn (229), Florida (243), Mississippi State (337), LSU (349) and South Carolina (367).
"Kelsie [Warren] and Ashley [Driscoll] ran like the senior leaders they are. They ran tough, poised races. They are running well when it matters," said McRaven. “We knew it was going to be a tight women’s team race after the first two teams, but nobody likes to come out in the short end of it. Third place through ninth place was only separated by 30 points and fourth through ninth by 19 points. I told the women that that boils down to only a few seconds per runner. Those few seconds make a huge difference in how we feel walking away from the meet. We’ll work on a few things and be ready in two weeks to take care of business at regionals.”
Warren placed 11th in the women's meter race as she posted a time of 20:40.5, the fifth-best effort by an A&M runner in the SEC Championships, trailing Hillary Montgomery (19:56.1 – 2014), Karis Jochen (19:59.2 – 2015, 20:08.8 - 2014) and herself a year ago (20:25.0 – 2018).
Ashley Driscoll followed in 12th place as she posted a time of 20:44.1 while the No. 3 Aggie runner was sophomore Julia Black, who finished 51st in 21:27.9. Rounding out the scoring five for the Aggies were Abbey Santoro (21:40.6) and Megan Hopper (21:53.0) as they placed 62nd and 69th, respectively. Ashton Hutcherson was the sixth finisher for A&M as she placed 74th (21:57.5).
Rachel Bernardo (22:26.7) the rest of the crew, placing 95th, and was followed by Olivia Arriaza (101st – 22:31.0), Carrie Fish (112th – 22:51.3), Laura Fairchild (113th - 22:52.7), Grace Plain (120th – 23:02.3) and Sarah Pia (133rd – 23:48.8).
“Our people ran well today and we believe that we have a little left in the tank as we head to regionals in two weeks,” head coach Pat Henry said. “The student-athletes that led the charge for the Aggies ran great races. Unfortunately, our depth was not on display today, but I know we are working hard in practice every day and are looking forward to gathering ourselves to get ready for regionals.”