MADISON, Wisconsin - Henry Lelei turned in another
stellar performance for the Aggies as his time of 23 minutes, 26 seconds, over
an 8,000-meter course placed the A&M senior fourth among a national caliber
field at Friday's fourth annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational held on the Thomas
Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.
Racing on a splendid day with the temperatures in the low
50s, the Aggie men placed 19th overall in a field of 45 teams. The
A&M women finished 46th in team scoring.
Lelei was with the lead group throughout the race,
clicking off mile splits at a 4:43 pace. Lelei covered the first mile in 4:53
as the lead group opened with a slower pace. Lelei then had splits of 9:06 and
14:56 at the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter marks.
"It was a good field and the weather was great," said
Lelei. "I enjoyed racing my friend from Arizona. I knew it was going to be a
tough race against him and the field had a lot of ranked teams. It was a big
challenge for us."
Arizona's tandem of Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu
finished first and second, with times of 23:03 and 23:07. Iona's Matt Gillespie
placed third in 23:25, just a second ahead of Lelei. Wisconsin's Maverick
Darling took fifth in 23:28.
"Lelei is way ahead of where he was at this point last
year, and he ended up placing ninth in the national meet," said Texas A&M
assistant coach Wendel McRaven. "That bodes well for him individually. A year
ago he placed 26th at this meet, running a 24:16. Now he is fourth
at 23:36, so that is a nice progression."
The men's team title went to Stanford with 135 points
while Iona placed second at 145 and Oklahoma finished third with 166 points.
The rest of the top 10 teams included Texas (267), Arkansas (308), Columbia
(308), Michigan (338), New Mexico (350), Eastern Kentucky (379), and UCLA
Texas A&M finished two places behind No. 1 Wisconsin
(489) and just seven points behind Georgia's tally of 505 points for 18th
place. Other teams placing behind the Aggies were Kansas (526), Arizona State
(528), Washington (542), Minnesota (542), Illinois (545), Arizona (608), Notre
Dame (615), Virginia (639), and Harvard (655).
"For the second year in a row this meet is one of the
best regular season meets in the sport," stated McRaven. "To finish 19th,
and be two places behind the No. 1 team (Wisconsin 17th) in the country,
shows the quality and depth of this field. To run well you have to be ready and
James Hodges was the next A&M runner to finish the
course, running 24:08 to place 70th. Stephen Curry clocked 24:16 to
finish 94th. C.J. Brown (24:33) and Micah Dettmer (24:38) rounded
out the scoring for the Aggies as they placed 161st and 183rd.
The sixth and seventh finishers for
A&M were Isaac Spencer (195th - 24:44) and MacLean O'Donnell (277th
"I think we had some bright spots, Henry Lelei ran great,"
noted McRaven. "He stuck his nose in there and competed really up at the front
of the pack. James Hodges continues to show a lot of progress, and Stephen
Curry the same thing. I thought we were really solid through the first three
Iowa State claimed the women's team title with 108 points
with Stanford runner-up at 180 and Washington in third with 250 points. Cornell
(262) and Providence (263) rounded out the top five teams.
Vanderbilt, the defending SEC champion, placed 18th
with 486 points while Missouri finished 43rd with 1,060 points. The
Aggies, with a team score of 1,150 points, placed ahead of Kansas (1187) and
Amanda Jenkins led the Aggie squad for the second
consecutive outing. She covered the women's 6,000-meter course in 21:08 to place
"I'm thankful I'm healthy and have been able to run well
this season," noted Jenkins. "I tried my best and it happened to place me first
among the team. I just try to gauge where I should be at different stages of
the race. You kind of have a goal for yourself that you set each race, so I
just try to stick with my goal. Then I use other people in the race to push me
and see if I can do better."
Finishing behind Jenkins for the A&M squad were
Hillary Montgomery (178th - 21:14), Shawn Dalglish (264th
- 21:52), Gabby Salazar (275th - 21:59), and Grace Fletcher (277th
- 22:00). Sophie Blake (22:08) and Tara Upshaw (23:13) were the sixth and
seventh runners for the Aggies.
"With the women's team the only disappointing thing was
in the way we raced today, it's not reflective of the progress we made," said
McRaven. "Two weeks ago we could see that progress. Today we didn't get to see
that continue, because we didn't race very well.
"That's part of the sport. In a field this size, with so
many bodies out there, you have to stay engaged in racing. It's easy to be
running pretty well and get discouraged when you see a lot of bodies in front
of you. That is something we have to learn from with this fairly inexperienced
In the men's open division Collin Slattery placed 42nd
with a time of 25:12 while Bobby Zeller posted a 26:46 to finish 95th.