The second cross country meet hosted at Texas A&M’s Dale Watts ‘71 Cross Country Course on Saturday, Sept. 25, yielded two new course records and a first place win for the women’s team.
In the first race of the morning, A&M’s own Eric Casarez shattered the 8K course record by 20 seconds with his second straight win of the season. The women’s team finished the meet in first place out of nine competing teams, while the men’s team finished second to North Texas.
Casarez clocked in at 23:04.0 in the 8K, 43 seconds faster than second-place finisher Caleb Bouchard of North Texas, who crossed at 23:47.5.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really focused on the time, I just wanted to go in and get the win,” Casarez said. “I wasn’t aware of [the record] until there was about 2K left in the race.”
The previous 8K record of 23:24 was set by Antibahs Kosgei from the University of Alabama in the 2015 SEC Championship.
Track and field head coach Pat Henry said he hopes the men’s team learned an important lesson about teamwork after the one-point team loss despite Casarez’s course record.
“They learned something today,” Henry said. “Every single person is important. Casarez can win by 25 seconds, but that doesn’t win the competition.”
The men’s team ultimately finished with 44 points, one point shy of winner North Texas.
A trio of A&M runners rounded out the 8K top-10, with junior Gavin Hoffpauir, 24:03.7, sophomore Brady Grant, 24:04.6, and freshman Joseph Benn, 24:09.6, going 8-9-10 and all clocking times within 10 seconds of each other.
Grace Forbes of Rice set another course record winning the women’s 5K in 16:58.0, previously held by unattached competitor Alexandria Hackett, who ran 17:03.9 in 2016.
Junior Julia Black led the way for the Aggies to finish 3-4-5 with a time of 17:31.1, followed by freshman Maddie Livingston, 17:49.7, and junior Grace Plain, 17:50.8. Freshman Gemma Goddard finished seventh, 18:00.5, and freshman Emma Ellis was 10th, 18:07.9. Kinesiology graduate student Annie Fuller, who competed unattached during Saturday’s meet, finished second, 17:14.6.
At the 2K split, four Aggies were tied at 6.52, including Goddard, before Black broke free from the pack.
“I got up next to [Madeline Boswell of UTSA], and I was still feeling great,” Black said. “A couple of steps after I caught her, I was a little bit ahead of her, so I kept rolling with it.”
Black said the atmosphere at the meet helped her finish strong.
“Today was noticeably different with all the people out here,” Black said. “Especially coming down the finishing stretch; it is an 800-meter long finishing stretch, and there were people lined down the whole thing.”
The women’s team scored 23 points to win; second-place finisher Rice had 49 points. A&M cross country coach Wendal McRaven had nothing but positive things to say.
“The women’s team ran a great race today,” McRaven said. “It was a team effort and a positive step going into next week.”
The Aggies travel to Columbia, Mo., to open SEC action on Friday, Oct. 1.