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Nationally ranked field next test for Aggies in Wisconsin

October 16, 2013
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

MADISON, Wisc. – Texas A&M’s final test prior to the conference championships will have the Aggies facing a nationally-ranked field of teams at the fifth annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational, which is held on the pristine layout of the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.

The Aggies will travel with a group of 20 runners, competing 10 each in the men’s and women’s races. Leading the men’s crew is Isaac Spencer and Austin Wells while the women’s squad is led by Hillary Montgomery and Karis Jochen.

“As I always say, this is another great opportunity to see our growth both as a team and individually,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “We want to see progress from the Louisville meet two weeks ago to get the objective feedback that we are on pace to be ready for the month of November.

“This meet has really blossomed into the nation’s premier ‘regular season’ cross country meet. It’s a great course, great competition and we have a history of doing some pretty good things here. Two years ago this was the meet that solidified our men’s team as a national level team.”

Among the 71 teams competing this Saturday, Oct. 19, there are 36 ranked teams among the national top 30 poll.

The men’s race, starting at 11 a.m. over an 8,000-meter course, includes 19 teams nationally ranked among a field of 35 while the women’s race, starting at noon over a 6,000-meter course, will feature 17 teams nationally ranked among 36 squads in the field.

“This meet really simulates the national meet probably more than any other meet we go to,” noted McRaven. “A large, national-level field…a fast start, lots of athletes fighting for the same space, etc… You need to be able to keep your cool out there.

“In the grand scheme of things it’s still a regular season meet that’s just another stepping stone towards the championship season which starts in November.”

The A&M women enter the meet having received votes for the national poll following their tie for first place at the Greater Louisville Classic with Kentucky. In addition to Montgomery and Jochen, the Aggie team will include Sophie Blake, Grace Fletcher, Johanna Galloway, Meredith Gleitz, Amanda Jenkins, Gabby Salazar, Heather Sterling and Katie Willard.

Joining Spencer and Wells on the A&M men’s crew are Micah Dettmer, Austin Geerts, Xavier Jimenez, Alex Riba, Jake Roberts, Colin Stoeber, Ryan Teel, and Cameron Villarreal. Dettmer, Riba and Roberts were part of an Aggie squad that won the Houston Baptist Invitational this past week with a score of 20 points.

“Our women showed at Louisville that we are close to being where we want to be,” said McRaven. “Since then we have had some great training. We have some women who are ready to roll.”

“The men were disappointed at Louisville, but that race really isn’t indicative of how good we are. Since then we have rebounded in training and our second group went down to Houston Baptist and raced the way we have expected them to race from the beginning. I think they are starting to put things together. It’s a talented group.”

No. 3 Northern Arizona is the top ranked team in the men’s field, followed by No. 5 BYU, No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Portland, and No. 8 Columbia among the nation’s top 10 programs this season. The women’s field is led by No. 1 Providence with No. 3 Arizona, No. 4 Washington, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 San Francisco also competing from the nation’s top 10 programs.

The men’s field also includes ranked squads from Syracuse (11), Indiana (12), North Carolina (13), Texas (14), Eastern Kentucky (16), Providence (17), Wisconsin (20), Minnesota (22), Georgetown (24), New Mexico (25), Florida (26), Dartmouth (27), Notre Dame, and Arizona State (30).

Ranked teams among the women’s field also include Dartmouth (13), Cornell (15), Duke (17), Minnesota (22), Boston College (24), Vanderbilt (25), BYU (26), Iowa State (28), Texas (29), and Notre Dame (30).

Joining the Aggies in the event from the SEC are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri (men), Tennessee (men) and Vanderbilt (women). The SEC Championships will be held on November 1 in Gainesville, Florida.

Other teams in the strong field include Connecticut, Cornell, Harvard, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Stony Brook, UC Davis, UCLA, UMass, Weber State and Yale.

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