The first national poll of the regular season has the Texas A&M men ranked No. 14, the highest ranking in school history for the cross country program. In the preseason poll, released a couple of weeks ago, the Aggies were tabbed No. 15 after finishing 18th in the 2011 NCAA Championships.
Among SEC schools Texas A&M is the top ranked men's team with Arkansas at No. 23 and Georgia at No. 30. Florida is among teams receiving votes. SEC schools in the women's national poll include No. 6 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Arkansas, and No. 29 Florida.
After winning the Baylor Twilight by a point, 37-38, over the host Bears a couple of weeks ago, Texas A&M returns to action this Friday by competing in Houston at the Rice Twilight. The Aggie men will face five of the top 10 teams from the South Central Region over a 6,000-meter course on the Rice campus at 6:45 p.m. The women's 4,000-meter race will start at 6:15 p.m.
"This is another early season opportunity for us to see where we are at this point in the season," said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. "For several of our athletes this will be their rust-buster to open the season. For others, it will be a chance to improve on their performances from two weeks ago. I always tell our athletes that there is no more race specific training than racing. This race can only serve to make us better in the future. This is part of the process of getting ready for November."
The Aggie men remain ranked No. 2 in the South Central poll while the A&M women remain ranked No. 3. In the men's field at the Rice Twilight the Aggies will compete against other South Central ranked teams that include No. 4 Lamar, No. 5 Rice, No. 6 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, No. 7 McNeese State, No. 10 Houston, and No. 15 Houston Baptist.
"I'm glad that we will get to face a few more quality teams in this meet," noted McRaven. "That was one of the things I was hoping for when we added this meet to our schedule. It will help break up the routine of only running with one another. Now we have some different colored uniforms added into the mix. It should be fun."
Henry Lelei, ninth in last year's NCAA Championship meet and the South Central individual champion, will compete in his first race this fall and leads a group of 13 Aggies into the Rice Twilight. The A&M squad competing in Houston this week also includes five other runners who were part of the Aggie team that qualified for the NCAA Championship field a year ago. That group includes C.J. Brown, Stephen Curry, James Hodges, MacLean O'Donnell and Isaac Spencer.
For the Aggie women, the Rice Twilight field includes three other regionally ranked teams - No. 8 Rice, No. 9 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and No. 12 Lamar. A crew of 17 A&M women will compete this week. Competing in their first meet of the season are veterans Gabby Salazar and Tara Upshaw along with newcomer Rachel Williams.
The Aggie women finished third at the Baylor Twilight behind the host Bears and SMU two weeks ago as they were led by a pair of top 10 finishes from Sophie Blake and Amanda Jenkins. Texas A&M women remain ranked No. 3 in the South Central region behind Arkansas and Texas while ahead of Baylor and SMU.
USTFCCCA NATIONAL COACHES POLL - Sept. 11, 2012
|1. Wisconsin||355||1. Washington||347|
|2. Oklahoma State||347||2. Oregon||345|
|3. BYU||341||3. Florida State||338|
|4. Oklahoma||303||4. Georgetown||334|
|5. Colorado||294||5. Iowa State||303|
|6. Portland||292||6. Vanderbilt||292|
|6. Texas||292||7. Providence||289|
|8. Iona||276||8. Stanford||272|
|9. Stanford||263||9. Arkansas||251|
|10. Florida State||234||10. Villanova||243|
|11. North Carolina St.||229||11. Michigan||232|
|12. Syracuse||221||12. Arizona||216|
|13. Indiana||216||13. Michigan State||186|
|14. Texas A&M||189||14. Boston College||182|
|15. Princeton||169||15. Virginia||178|
|16. Georgetown||168||16. Colorado||170|
|17. Minnesota||149||17. Weber State||149|
|18. Northern Arizona||139||18. Toledo||129|
|19. Villanova||132||19. San Francisco||127|
|20. Michigan||125||20. Syracuse||125|
|20. Tulsa||125||21. Notre Dame||111|
|22. Oregon||113||22. Oklahoma State||109|
|23. Arkansas||110||23. Penn State||107|
|24. New Mexico||87||24. New Mexico||105|
|25. Notre Dame||76||25. West Virginia||95|
|26. Washington St.||64||26. North Carolina St.||63|
|27. Eastern Kentucky||57||27. Texas||60|
|28. Columbia||48||28. Princeton||58|
|29. UCLA||45||29. Florida||56|
|30. Georgia||28||30. Minnesota||32|