BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Texas A&M men and women cross country squads are each predicted to finish sixth in the SEC Championships via voting by the conference coaches.
Arkansas men and women are tabbed to claim the 2013 team titles in the SEC preseason coaches’ poll. Points for the men’s poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 basis while the women’s poll was awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13 basis. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
The 2013 SEC Cross Country Championships are slated to take place Friday, Nov. 1 at Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla.
Last year the Aggie men tied for third place at the SEC cross country meet with Missouri, another conference newcomer, as A&M senior Henry Lelei claimed the individual title. The A&M women finished in eighth place. Both Aggie squads also placed third in the NCAA South Central region.
The Arkansas men are favored to win the 2013 SEC Championship after capturing their 20th SEC Cross Country Championship in the last 22 years in 2012. The Razorbacks finished 10th at the NCAA Championships. Rounding out the top five SEC men’s teams are Florida, Missouri, Georgia and Auburn.
The Arkansas women, who placed second at last year’s SEC Championship and were 18th in the 2012 NCAA Championships, were selected to win the 2013 conference title. The Razorbacks garnered 11 first-place votes, while Florida was second with two first-place votes and Vanderbilt was selected third with one first-place vote. Rounding out the top five SEC women’s squads are Georgia and Mississippi.
“We are excited about this coming fall,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “We’re adding a lot of new faces to both genders, but have a strong core returning to help provide needed leadership. It will be fun to watch this group grow into a team.
“One of the keys for both teams will be how quickly the newcomers assimilate into the lifestyle of collegiate student-athletes. They will have a lot of new demands. As a staff and as a team we need to help them make that adjustment. One of my goals is to forget they are freshmen by the end of the season.”
Top returnees for the A&M men are Isaac Spencer, Micah Dettmer, Colin Slattery and Ryan Miller. Spencer placed 17th in the conference meet last fall and went on to place third in the SEC steeplechase during the spring and also finished fifth in the SEC 5,000 meters.
Newcomers for the Aggie men include Austin Wells, Ryan Teel, Cameron Villarreal and Alex Riba, who each qualified for the Nike national cross country meet last year.
A returning nucleus for the women’s team includes Amanda Jenkins, Hillary Montgomery, Grace Fletcher, Gabby Salazar and Sophie Blake. Jenkins posted the best finish for the Aggies at the SEC cross country meet in 2012, placing 36th.
Karis Jochen headlines a trio of Aggie women newcomers that also includes Katie Willard and Katie Pia. Jochen, who competed at A&M Consolidated High School, is a two-time Texas Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year who finished fifth at both the Nike cross country nationals as well as the Foot Locker cross country nationals last fall after winning the Texas 5A State cross country titles in 2011 and 2012.
Texas A&M opens the 2013 cross country season at the end of August with a trip to Waco for the Baylor Twilight on Aug. 30. The lone meet for the Aggies in September takes place in Houston with the Rice Invitational on Sept. 13.
A pair of competitions in October have A&M traveling to Louisville, Kentucky (Oct. 5) and Madison, Wisconsin (Oct. 19). Then the SEC Championships follow on Nov. 1 in Gainesville, Florida. Baylor will host the NCAA South Central Region meet on Nov. 15 with the NCAA Championships returning to Terre Haute, Indiana, on Nov. 23.
2013 SEC Men’s Predicted Order of Finish
1. Arkansas (12) 12
2. Florida (1) 35
3. Missouri 37
4. Georgia 47
5. Auburn 55
6. Texas A&M 62
7. Kentucky 80
8. Ole Miss 85
9. Tennessee 107
10. Alabama 108
11. Mississippi State 110
T12. LSU 138
T12. Vanderbilt 138
2013 SEC Women’s Predicted Order of Finish
1. Arkansas (11) 15
2. Florida (2) 27
3. Vanderbilt (1) 39
4. Georgia 62
5. Ole Miss 64
6. Texas A&M 69
7. Kentucky 75
8. Missouri 107
9. Alabama 108
10. South Carolina 130
11. Mississippi State 133
12. Tennessee 142
13. Auburn 147
14. LSU 156