COLLEGE STATION – A pair of team titles opened the cross country season for the Aggies at the Texas A&M Invitational held Friday morning on the Dale Watt course. The A&M women scored 18 points while the Aggie men tallied 50 for their respective team victories.
“It’s a rust buster for us, so you never know what to expect exactly,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “Both sides did a really nice job today.”
Kelsie Warren and Ashley Driscoll finished first and second in the women’s 5,000-meter race as A&M bettered the field of six teams.
“Today I really just wanted to get out there and feel smooth,” stated Warren. “I’m really excited to see where my team is going this season. Ashley is right there with me and I’m excited to see what the rest of the girls can really do.”
Warren claimed the victory in 17:27.6 with Driscoll runner-up in 17:50.8. The rest of the scoring five for the Aggies placed 4-5-6 with the trio of Ashton Hutcherson (18:31.9), Abbey Santoro (18:33.5) and Julie Black (18:34.7). Baylor’s Lindsay Walton broke up the A&M crew, placing third in 18:13.2.
“Kelsie and Ashley went out pretty aggressively,” noted McRaven. “The second group of girls at one point had six runners together. They were building through the race, rolling together. For us to put five in the top six meant they closed really well over the second half of the race. That’s impressive and a testament to the work they’ve done and the culture they are trying to build.”
Finishing behind the Aggie women in team scoring were Baylor (53), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (97), SMU (109), UTRGV (109), and West Texas A&M (150).
Wes McPhail led the Aggie men, placing third in the 8,000-meter race with a time of 24:52.5. Abraham Chirchir of UT-Rio Grande Valley won the race in 24:37.0 with Baylor’s TJ Sugg runner-up in 24:52.5.
“The goal coming out here every meet is to get better,” said McPhail. “We work on things in a race that we can’t get in a practice session. The team came out here and competed well. We had some good competition, even with a Division II team who can’t be taken lightly since they have some really good athletes.
“We have a lot of new guys who will immediately contribute to this program and get us to the next level in conference and regional competitions.”
The next Aggie finishers were Jackson Jett, Zephyr Seagraves and Colton Colonna in ninth, 11th and 12th place with times of 25:16.2, 25:21.0 and 25:24.2. Then the tandem of Johnathon Blaine (25:37.8) and Gavin Hoffpauir (25:39.2) placed 15th and 16th.
“Wes is a sophomore and it was good to see him step up and continue to progress from what we saw last year,” said McRaven. “Jackson Jett is a new guy, who stuck his nose in there and is figuring some things out.”
Texas A&M scored 50 points for the men’s team title over a field of five teams. West Texas A&M claimed the runner-up spot at 66 points over Baylor (67), UTRGV (76) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (92).
The seventh finisher for the A&M men was Joel Potter (25:45.3) in 19th place, while Harrison Tillman (26:19.0) finished 22nd and Juan Arcila (26:33.3) placed 30th.
In the women’s race the next wave of Aggies included Grace Plain (18:52.0 - 11th), Megan Hopper (19:06.6 - 15th), Rebecca Bonta (19:20.0 - 18th), Sarah Pia (19:20.4 - 19th), Olivia Arriaza (19:33.7 – 24th), Catalina Cerda (19:38.3 – 27th), Michala Janssen (19:55.5 – 31st), Emily Chastain (19:57.4 – 32nd) and Emily McCollum (19:57.6 – 33rd).