The Texas A&M cross country team will host its first and only home meet of the season, the Arturo Barrios Invitational, at the Watts Cross Country Course on Saturday.
The annual meet began in 2018 and is named after A&M Athletics Hall of Fame honoree Arturo Barrios, a long-distance runner who holds several A&M track and cross country records from the mid-80s.
“This is a meet that we have been working hard to have every year,” head coach Pat Henry told 12thman.com. “It honors Arturo [Barrios], one of the greatest track athletes to ever attend Texas A&M. Our goal is to organize a premiere event that features national-level type of competitors. Despite being affected by COVID-19, this meet will bring in some great in-state teams along with LSU.”
Assistant coach Wendel McRaven said despite limitations due to coronavirus guidelines, the meet will prepare the Aggies well for the SEC Championships and introduce them to new competitors.
“The meet looks like it is going to be pretty competitive,” McRaven told 12thman.com. “It’s the biggest field we’ve seen so far this season. Normally we’d be hosting 25 teams or so at this meet but with the limitations we are dealt with we are excited about the teams that are coming and we’re excited about the opportunity to compete with teams we haven’t seen this year. It will be a good launching point for us as we head into the short championship season which is only the SEC Championships.”
Running with a home course advantage, freshman Joseph Benn said he anticipates the 12th Man to help the Aggies to strong finishes.
“It's exciting, we practice on this course so much,” Benn told 12thman.com. “We know the ins and outs of it and I think it will be really fun. There's going to be some good competition and having the home crowd out here will be exciting and I think it'll have an impact on our performances.”
Junior Rachel Bernardo said many of her teammates are excited to renew A&M’s rivalry with Texas during this meet — the only meet the Aggies are guaranteed to see the Longhorns in this season.
“It will be fun to compete against some different teams we haven't seen yet this season,” Bernardo told 12thman.com. “We're all really excited to see where we stack up against some of the other schools in Texas. Especially seeing t.u., I know a lot of people are excited to race them because they're always a rivalry.”
The meet starts with the men’s 8,000-meter at 9:30 a.m. and concludes with the women’s 6,000-meter at 10:15 a.m.