Cross country opens season at Rice Invitational
Cross country will stay in Houston this weekend for its season opener at Rice University’s Norry Hersey Invitational.
For the men and the women, this will be a good meet to ease their crop of skilled but somewhat untested athletes into the season.
Neither squad will be running against teams that rank in the sport’s top 25 collegiate programs. In addition to the Rice Owls, the Cougars will be up against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Lamar and HBU.
Last season, junior G.J. Reyna used the Rice Invitational to solidify his spot as the top runner on the squad. On that day, Reyna placed eighth among the men.
Reyna will be the top runner going into the meet as redshirt senior Brian Barraza and redshirt junior Blake Contreras will not be running at the invitational.
Joining Reyna will be redshirt senior Chris Ibarra, who took off from cross country last season but performed well during track, winning the AAC Indoor 800m championship.
Others include redshirt senior Matt Parmley and junior Cameron Laverty, runners who only placed 52nd and 60th respectively at the conference meet in 2016. They and others will need to perform at a higher level to fulfill the men’s quest for a conference title.
For the women, this season is all about finding whether their runners can make the most of their athleticism.
Many on the squad have been hindered by injuries in the past. One example: junior Ebony White, who was the top runner for the women in at conference in 2014 but has since been dogged by injuries that kept her off the course.
Redshirt sophomore Meredith Sorensen is another who showed promise as a freshman but was hampered by stress fractures. Sorensen is in shape going into this season and will be a top runner on the team if she is able to find her form.
Others on the women’s team who may not have shown success in cross country have performed well during track season. Senior Jennifer Dunlap and junior Jahnavi Schneider had respective successes on the track. Both competed in events ranging between the 1500m and the 5000m and both ran together on the Distance Medley Relay team that won bronze at the AAC Indoor Championships.
“We had some athletes make some really strong improvements on the track,” head coach Steve Magness said. “(They’ve) made big steps on the track that I hope will translate to cross-country success.”
The Norry Hersey Rice Invitational begins at 6:45 p.m. Friday.