MADISON, Wisconsin - Texas A&M cross country faces a challenging field at the fourth annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational held this Friday on the pristine Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The Aggie women race at noon on a 6,000-meter course while the A&M men start at 12:40 p.m. on an 8,000-meter course.
Among the nearly 50 teams scheduled to run in the meet, 20 nationally ranked squads will be involved in each race. The men's field includes No. 1 Wisconsin along with five other top 10 teams - No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Iona, No. 6 Portland, No. 8 Stanford, and No. 10 Syracuse. The women's field is led by No. 2 Arizona while including No. 3 Washington, No. 5 Iowa State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 9 Cornell, and No. 10 Michigan State.
Competing from the SEC are defending men's conference champion Arkansas, currently ranked No. 19, and defending women's conference champion Vanderbilt, currently ranked No. 12. Georgia and Missouri, who men's teams are ranked No. 24 and No. 30, are set to compete in both races.
Texas A&M will have 16 athletes racing in the Wisconsin Invitational, with nine men and seven women. Last season the Aggie men finished 14th, tying Oregon, and bettered seven nationally ranked teams. The A&M women placed 33rd among a field of 44 teams. This is the final regular season meet for the Aggies prior to competing in the SEC Championships on Oct. 26 in Nashville.
"This will give us another opportunity to race in a national class field and see where we stack up this time of the year," said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. "This is a great field on a great course and provides a mini-preview of the national meet. It is a great tune-up before our first SEC meet.
"Our goal is to continue to grow throughout the season. We had a solid weekend at Notre Dame two weeks ago and we need to build on that. We tend to get better as the season progresses."
Henry Lelei, who placed 26th in this meet a year ago with a time of 24:16, leads the Aggie men. Other A&M runners returning with experience on the Zimmer course include James Hodges (24:54), MacLean O'Donnell (24:56), Stephen Curry (24:59), C.J. Brown (25:44), Isaac Spencer (25:57), and Bobby Zeller (26:14). Joining that group this season are Micah Dettmer and Colin Slattery.
The returning runners who had experience on this course in 2011 for the Aggie women include Tara Upshaw (21:39), Hillary Montgomery (21:40), Shawn Dalglish (22:07), Grace Fletcher (22.27) and Sophie Blake (23:10). Amanda Jenkins, who led the A&M crew during the Notre Dame meet, and Gabby Salazar will be part of the group this season.