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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Cross Country

Cross-country big three makes debut at A&M

Cross-country starts their final preparations for the conference championship meet by facing the top competition in the south at the Texas A&M Invitational on Saturday. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The Cougars cross-country team is a little over a month away from traveling to Philadelphia for the American Athletic Conference championship meet. After having the HBU season opener canceled due to Hurricane Harvey, the Cougars have two meets left remaining before the championship.

The Texas A&M Invitational on Saturday will give the Cougars their best window in terms of seeing how they will perform at the championship meet. Notably, the meet will be the first time that redshirt senior Brian Barraza, redshirt junior Blake Contreras and junior G.J. Reyna will be running together since 2015.

“I think we all know that A&M is where it all really starts and gets a lot more serious,” Reyna said. “So it’s exciting. From now to then, we’ll probably talk about team tactics and stuff a little bit more, but we’re just excited. It’s going to be a good meet for us — the start of a really good season.” 

Many of the top teams in the south region will be traveling to College Station for the meet. The Cougars will face teams like LSU, TCU, Kentucky and Texas A&M.

Last year, the men placed ninth as a team with Reyna being the top runner, finishing in 24th place. Reyna now has a whole year of competition under his legs and is coming off a win at the Rice Invitational, his best performance to date. Now that he is joined with all-conference runners Barraza and Contreras, the men have the tools for improving on last year’s mark.

A top five finish at A&M would propel them to a strong performance at the championship meet.

“The men have the potential to do some great things this year,” said head coach Steve Magness, “but it’s up to them to come together as a team and put in the work to see their potential become reality.”

For the women, whose top runner from last season, Selena Sierra, graduated, A&M is a tough test for the second meet of the season. Senior Ebony White and redshirt sophomore Meredith Sorensen were the top runners at Rice but only placed 12th and 13th, respectively.

Senior Jennifer Dunlap will be making her return to cross country at A&M. After a strong season in track & field, Magness and his coaches hope Dunlap will be able to translate that success onto the cross-country course.

The Texas A&M Invitational starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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