Aggies host NCAA South Central Region meet Friday on Watts Cross Country Course

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M serves as host of the NCAA South Central Region meet on Friday, Nov. 10, at the Dale Watts cross country course. The women’s race, covering 6,000-meters, begins at 9:15 a.m. while the men’s 10,000m race follows at 10:15 a.m.

“Having this meet at home is really pretty awesome,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “We host the region meet this year, next year and then again two years after that. It’s nice to be at a place where that’s possible. Our kids know the course, it’s a great course that is going to run fast and it’s in great shape.”

Admission is free and parking is available in the Hildebrand Equine Complex at 3242 F and B Road. The facility is accessible from F and B Road off the corner intersection with 2818.

The top two teams in each race earn automatic qualification to the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 18. In addition, the top four individual finishers not on a qualifying team will advance to the national meet.

Nationally ranked programs from the South Central region include Arkansas and Texas, who are tied for 17th in the men’s poll, along with No. 6 Arkansas on the women’s side. Other women’s teams receiving votes for the top 30 national poll include Texas, Baylor and Abilene Christian.

Texas A&M men are ranked third in the region rankings with the Aggie women ranked seventh.

“The women’s side is kind of wide open,” noted McRaven. “You have Arkansas and then everybody else. There are probably five or six teams going into the meet thinking if we do things right I think we can second.

“On the men’s side Arkansas and Texas have kind of separated themselves on paper. Right now we are the third-ranked team in the region on the men’s side and we need to knock off one of those two teams if we are going to get an automatic bid to nationals. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Arkansas men have won four consecutive South Central team titles and claimed top honors 14 times since 2000. The Razorback women, meanwhile, have won six consecutive team titles in the South Central meet and 11 overall titles since 2001.

Texas A&M men placed fourth a year ago and finished third in 2015 when the meet was held on the Watts course. The Aggie women have finished seventh the past two years in the region meet.

“We have individuals that have a great shot in qualifying,” said McRaven. “Christian Farris on the men’s side and the combination of Kelsie Warren and Ashley Driscoll on the women’s side.”

Farris has placed 14th in this meet the past two seasons and recently placed eighth in the SEC Championship. Two returning champions highlight the men’s field with 2015 winner Brian Barraza of Houston and last year’s winner Emmanuel Rotich of Tulane.

On the women’s side Warren finished 58th while Driscoll placed 38th in last year’s region meet. Recently, though, Warren produced a 10th-place performance in the SEC meet while Driscoll finished 17th. Last year’s winner, Devin Clark of Arkansas, returns along with six of the top 10 finishers from last season.

“Warren has stepped up to a completely different level this year and puts herself in that combination,” stated McRaven. “Placing in the top 10 of the SEC probably puts you among the top five or six in the region. Driscoll has an outside shot as well to put herself in that position.

“Our top two girls are running very similar to how Hillary Montgomery and Grace Fletcher were running when they earned All-American honors at the NCAA Championships in cross country. As sophomores, Warren and Driscoll are a couple of years ahead of that, running as well as Montgomery and Fletcher when they were seniors.”

Driscoll led the Aggies this season through the first three meets of the season, placing second at the Aggie Opener, fifth in the Bulldog SEC Preview and third in the Texas A&M Invitational. When Warren returned to racing she paced the team through the Crimson Classic at Alabama and the conference meet by placing third and 10th, respectively.

“I think there is an aspect of normalcy in racing a NCAA regional meet at home,” said Warren. “We are not having to worry about packing and traveling. There is a sense of calm that you don’t have to mentally worry about those things, and the night before the race you are sleeping in your own bed.

“For my race plan, it kind of goes hand in hand. I know that for my team to do the best that we can do, I have to do the best that I can do. When I’m at the starting line I’m thinking about racing for my teammates right next to me, and the A&M uniform on my chest.”

NCAA South Central Region – Rankings & Conference result

Friday, November 10, 2017 – Dale Watts Course, College Station, Texas

MEN Conference finish

1 Texas Big 12 2nd
2 Arkansas SEC 1st
3 Texas A&M SEC 8th
4 Lamar Southland 1st
5 McNeese State Southland 2nd
6 Baylor Big 12 6th
7 Rice C-USA 3rd
8 UT Arlington Sun Belt 2nd
9 Houston American 6th
10 Texas State Sun Belt 3rd
11 La-Lafayette Sun Belt 5th
12 North Texas C-USA 4th
13 Tulane American 7th
14 Incarnate Word Southland 3rd
15 LSU SEC 11th

WOMEN Conference finish

1 Arkansas SEC 1st
2 Abilene Christian Southland 1st
3 Texas Big 12 3rd
4 Baylor Big 12 5th
5 SMU American 2nd
6 Lamar Southland 2nd
7 Texas A&M SEC 8th
8 McNeese State Southland 3rd
9 TCU Big 12 10th
10 Rice C-USA 3rd
11 Tulane American 5th
12 North Texas C-USA 5th
13 Texas State Sun Belt 1st
14 Texas A&M-CC Southland 4th
15 Stephen F. Austin Southland 5th