MADISON, Wisc. – A field of highly ranked national teams at the fifth annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational, plus 40-degree weather and a challenging course, offered Texas A&M a final test prior to the start of the championship season in cross county. The Aggie women placed 23rd while the A&M men were 33rd.
“I thought the women ran a solid race,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “We’re not quite hitting on all cylinders yet and we still ran a solid race. We were able to beat some teams from our region as well as our conference. We were right behind Florida and a few places behind Vanderbilt, which are two teams we will see in a couple of weeks at the SEC meet.”
Hillary Montgomery led the Aggie women, placing 62nd over the 6,000-meter course in a time of 20:47 among a field of 288 runners. Montgomery opened with a 5:36 mile and covered 3,000 meters in 10:31.
Texas A&M scored 591 points in placing 23rd, finishing just behind Florida’s 577 for 22nd place. The women’s field included 37 teams.
“I’d like to go back and compare the times, but Hillary placed better than Natosha Rogers (83rd, 21:12) did two years ago on this course,” noted McRaven. “That puts Hillary right in the company where she should be somebody that is top 10 at the SEC Championships, top 5 to 10 at the South Central region meet and then thinking about being a top 40 to top 60 runner in the nation, which is a big step up for her.”
Isaac Spencer was the top Aggie finisher among the men, placing 111th over the 8,000-meter course with a time of 24:25 among a field of 288 competitors. Spencer had a 4:56 opening mile and covered 3,000 meters in 9:13 and 5,000 meters in 15:25.
A&M totaled 965 points in finishing 33rd ahead of Weber State (1,041) and UMass Amherst (1,133).
“The men took a step forward, although it’s hard to tell in a meet like this because it’s such a good meet,” said McRaven. “This is the best meet in the country. We can do some things better, but we can see where even in the conference, there are teams that are within our reach. We need to be a get out a bit more aggressively and do a better job moving together.”
Following Montgomery to compile the Aggie team score were Sophie Blake (111th, 21:10), Karis Jochen (119th, 21:14), Grace Fletcher (146th, 21:25), and Amanda Jenkins (153rd, 21:30). Gabby Salazar (168th, 21:38) was the sixth runner for A&M, Katie Willard (241st, 22:47) placed seventh and Johanna Galloway (282nd, 23:23) was eighth among the team.
Teams the Aggie women bettered included a trio of top 30 nationally ranked teams in No. 26 BYU (604), No. 17 Duke (619), and No. 29 Texas (629), as well as UCLA (659), Columbia (664), North Carolina (698), Stony Brook (741), Weber State (818), Georgia (842), Air Force (856), Northwestern (890), Connecticut (916), Louisville (932) and Yale (964).
“We keep closing the gap with our first five on the women’s side,” McRaven stated. “That’s going to be the key for this team, especially when we compete at the SEC meet and the regional meet where there are fewer teams involved. This meet was large, similar to a national meet. It will be a little different flavor in two weeks when we go to Gainesville and then two weeks later for regionals in Waco.”
Four freshmen comprised the rest of the A&M’s team score with Cameron Villarreal (173rd, 24:49), Xavier Jimenez (220th, 25:28), Austin Wells (228th, 25:37), and Ryan Teel (233rd, 25:46). The rest of the crew included Ryan Miller (237th, 26:02), Colin Stoeber (240th, 26:21) and Austin Geerts (282nd, 26:27).
Villarreal led the Aggies through the majority of the race, running 4:52 in the first mile and then clocking 9:06 at 3,000 meters along with a 15:23 at 5,000 meters. He was seven seconds ahead of Spencer at 3k, but the gap closed to just two seconds by the 5k mark.
SEC teams in the men’s field included No. 6 Arkansas, who placed seventh with 265 points; No. 26 Florida, in 22nd place (541), Georgia in 24th (543), Missouri in 31st (639) and Tennessee 32nd (863).
“The Missouri coach reminded me after the meet that last year the Tigers finished 31st in this meet and then they tied us for third at the SEC Championships after we crushed them by 100s of points,” said McRaven. “This meet isn’t always 100 percent indicative of how you’re going to finish in a conference or regional meet. It depends on how the athletes react to it.”
In B races, Micah Dettmer ran 25:30 for 34th place while Jake Roberts turned in a 26:58 for 51st place. The women’s B race had Heather Sterling clocking 23:46 for 57th with Meredith Gleitz running 23:56 for 59th.
No. 3 Arizona won the women’s team title with 117 points over No. 8 Arkansas, who finished second with 136, while No. 1 Providence claimed third place with 191 points.
The rest of the top 10 included No. 9 Michigan State (200), No. 28 Iowa State (235), No. 7 New Mexico (240), No. 13 Dartmouth (246), No. 22 Minnesota (303), No. 4 Washington (308), and No. 10 San Francisco (342). Another SEC school in the race included No. 25 Vanderbilt placing 19th with 559 points.
Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino won the race in 19:31 with Emily Sisson of Providence runner-up in 19:44 while Marielle Hall of Texas finished third in 19:46.
The men’s team winner was No. 3 North Arizona with 121 points followed by No. 5 BYU with 174 while No. 7 Portland finished third with 216. The rest of the top 10 included No. 20 Wisconsin (217), No. 25 New Mexico (251), No. 8 Columbia (261), No. 6 Arkansas (265), No. 11 Syracuse (306), Michigan (323), and No. 16 Eastern Kentucky (332).
Kemoy Campbell of Arkansas captured the individual title in 23:12 as he established an early lead with an opening mile of 4:38. Havard’s Maksim Korolev ran 23:14 as runner-up while North Carolina State’s Andrew Colley finished third in 23:16.