COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M cross country begins the season with the Aggie Opener at 6:30 p.m. this Friday on a new home venue. Competing against Lamar and Stephen F. Austin the top three pairings from each school in a relay-style format will result in a team’s score.
A&M’s new competition and practice facility, which will have an official opening and dedication when the Aggies host its invitational meet on September 20, is located within the new Hildebrand Equine Complex at 3242 F and B Road. The facility is accessible from F and B Road off the corner intersection with 2818.
“Having our own course, which we will dedicate in a couple of weeks, is really a great addition for Texas A&M,” noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “Being able to run at home is a great thing for our program.
“For our older athletes coming back I know this will be a fun experience for them to run at home and our newcomers to the program now have a course they can call their home base. It’s going to be real important for our future. An added benefit with our own course is that we can do a number of days training on the facility every week.”
Preseason rankings for the South Central Region have the Lamar men ranked No. 3, the Aggies No. 4 and SFA at No. 5. In the women’s region rankings the A&M women are No. 3, Lamar follows at No. 6 and SFA is No. 13. The Aggie women were also among teams receiving votes when the national preseason top 30 rankings were released by USTFCCCA this week.
Running on a 2.1 kilometer loop the men will have a pair of runners each make three loops, running 6.3 kilometers apiece for a combined distance of 12.6 km. The women’s tandems will each make two loops, running 4.2 kilometers apiece for a total distance of 8.4 km.
“The new course provides unlimited opportunities for us,” said Aggie assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “It’s a great place to train and now we can schedule home meets whenever we need to. It gives us a lot of flexibility.
“First meets in a cross country season usually tend to not be very meaningful as teams hold back their top seven runners. So I wanted to do something different where we can include our whole team, especially when we host a meet at this new facility. This is a great dress rehearsal as they get to put on the uniform and go through the race day routine. But this format will be different than a regular race.”
When a runner completes a 2.1 kilometer circuit they tap the hand of their relay partner, who begins another circuit of the course while the initial runner recovers.
Finishing the race follows the familiar cross country scoring format with one point for the first-place tandem followed by two points for the runner-up, etc. The combined scoring for the top three tandems from each school results in a team score.