COLUMBIA, Missouri – Texas A&M men and women each placed second in the Gans Creek Classic hosted by Missouri on Friday, with the Tigers sweeping the team titles on its brand new Gans Creek Cross Country Course.
The Aggie men finished two points behind Missouri, 55-57, while the A&M women totaled 42 points with Missouri scoring 28 for the team victory.
“This was a dress rehearsal for the important meets that matter later in the season,” Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven said. “Every meet we get a little bit better. This is a great course, it’s spectacular. Props to Missouri, they did a nice job.”
Kelsie Warren led the Aggie women, covering the 6,000-meter course in 21 minutes, 19.6 seconds, as she finished as the top collegian and second overall, behind post-collegian Kaitlyn Shea, who won in 21:12.4.
“It was fun to come out somewhere different and race on a new course,” Warren said. “It was a little bit hotter than we expected. We’ve been training in heat and humidity, but were hoping for a little cooler weather. Given the way we are training, I couldn’t be happier with the performance. There’s stuff to improve upon, but it was good to get out and race.”
A&M newcomer Eric Casarez, a sophomore, made his debut with Texas A&M, leading the team with a third-place performance as he covered the 8,000-meter course in 25:08.6. Missouri’s Thomas George won the men’s race in 24:49.9 with Adam Fogg of Drake runner-up in 24:57.4.
“This race was a big rust buster for me,” Casarez stated. “This is my first race being in an A&M jersey after transferring from Oklahoma. This is actually first race in 364 days, so tomorrow would have been exactly a year. Coming in I had no expectations, I know I still need to learn and grow as a runner under Coach McRaven’s training.”
McRaven added: “Eric ran great, and I think he’s happy to see that he is starting to fulfill that potential he showed in his senior year of high school. He transferred here and fit in really well. We decided to put the uniform on him since he’s been training well. I’m glad we did.”
The Tigers and Aggies had close finishes for each of five scoring places, with Missouri runners crossing the line in 1-8-19-12-23 while A&M countered with 3-9-12-14-19 for the 55-57 tally. With the sixth and seventh runners, the Aggies held an advantage of 22-26 to the Tigers tally of 42-51.
In third place Drake led the rest of the men’s field with 64 points and were followed by North Florida (74), Saint Louis (157), Texas Tech (159), Illinois State (212), Kansas City (214), Southern Illinois (222) and Southeast Missouri (270).
Following Missouri (28) and Texas A&M (42) in the women’s race were Kansas City (137), Texas Tech (137), North Florida (157), Illinois State (172), Southeast Missouri (189), Saint Louis (206), Drake (217), Southern Illinois (230) and UAB (242).
Ashley Driscoll finished fifth in the women’s race, clocking 21:39.1 as Julia Black placed 10th with a 22:06.1. Then the tandem of Abbey Santoro (22:20.9) and Ashton Hutcherson (22:31.5) were 14th and 16th to round out the Aggies team score. Grace Plain (23:09.5), Megan Hopper (23:16.4) and Sarah Pia (23:26.2) finished 33-36-38 for A&M.
“The women really ran a good race,” McRaven noted. “They really closed strongly over the last 3k of the race. We were at 70-something points with 2k to go and ended up scoring 42 points at the end of the race. They closed well and passed a lot of people.”
Behind the effort by Casarez, Wes McPhail placed ninth in 25:26.4, Gavin Hoffpauir finished 12th with a 25:41.2, and Zephyr Seagraves was 14th in 25:50.3. Johnathon Blaine completed the Aggies team score by placing 19th as he clocked 26:04.0.
Jon Bishop (26:18.6), finished 22nd as he competed in his first race of the season. Harrison Tillman (26:29.8) placed 26th, Colton Colonna (26:51.9) was 38th and Joel Potter (27:40.4) finished 54th.
Texas A&M will host the Arturo Barrios Invitational on Saturday, October 19.