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A&M set to defend team titles at Rice Invitational on Friday

September 12, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
HOUSTON – Texas A&M will be defending a pair of cross country team titles as they travel to the Rice Invitational on Friday. The women’s race, covering 4,000 meters, starts at 6:15 p.m. on the Rice campus while the men’s race, covering 6,000 meters, begins at 6:45 p.m.

With the cross country course located on the intramural fields near the Rice football stadium, the starting line will be off of Alumni Drive.

The Aggies, currently ranked No. 3 for the men and women among the South Central region, will face a field that includes host Rice, Houston, Houston Baptist, Lamar, McNeese, Prairie View A&M, SFA, Sam Houston, TCU, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, Texas Southern, and Texas State.

“The meet at Rice will give us a chance to really see where we are at this time of the year,” noted Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “We will run a full squad and see where we stack up against some solid regionally ranked teams. On both sides I think this meet is exactly what we need this time of year. It is a good competitive field that will test us.”

Texas A&M is the top ranked region team in the field. Lamar men rank No. 4 right behind the Aggies followed by No. 5 McNeese, No. 6 Rice, No. 7 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, No. 8 SFA, and No. 11 Houston.

Among the women’s field following No. 3 Texas A&M are No. 7 Lamar, No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Rice, No. 11 SFA, and No. 14 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Texas A&M swept the team titles at Rice a year ago. The leading returners for the Aggies include Sophie Blake, the runner-up in the women’s race, and Isaac Spencer, who placed fifth in the men’s race.

The Aggie women will travel with a squad of 19 runners. In addition to Blake the group will include season debuts for Grace Fletcher, Amanda Jenkins, Karis Jochen, Hillary Montgomery, Gabby Salazar, and Eva Vigh.

Spencer headlines a crew of 15 runners for the A&M men as he makes his season debut with Elliott Farris, Xavier Jimenez, Ryan Miller, Ryan Teel, Cameron Villarreal, and Austin Wells.

“The athletes have been training hard and a race this time of year is a reward and a chance to see their work paying off,” said McRaven. “It’s really another step in our progression towards November.

“I’m really excited to see us in a race environment. On the women’s side we have a great combination of experience and youth. Overall the men are very young, but talented. It will be fun to see how both teams progress throughout the year.”

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