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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cross Country

Barraza wins silver, men place sixth at conference meet


Brian Barraza, wearing a No. 32 flag, won the silver medal in his final American Athletic Conference championship meet. | Courtesy of Mitch Leff, UH Athletics

In his final cross country conference meet for the Cougars, redshirt senior Brian Barraza earned the highest finish of his career.

With a time of 25 minutes, 6.6 seconds, Barraza placed second in the field of 83 runners. Barraza’s time was second only to Emmanuel Rotich of Tulane, who finished about 8 seconds ahead of him.

Barraza’s silver medal, in addition to being his best individual mark as a Cougar, is the highest for any cross country runner in over a decade. The last Cougar to place second was Tyler Stanfield at the 2004 Conference USA Championship.

But Barraza’s run was the only bright spot for Cougars as the men placed sixth out of 10 teams. The place is an improvement from a year ago, when they placed eighth, but a far cry from their third place from 2015.

Junior G.J. Reyna was again the second-best runner for the men, but he could not match his 23rd finish from 2016. Reyna placed 31st with a time of 26 minutes, 31.9 seconds.

For the women, the top two runners were once again Jennifer Dunlap and Meredith Sorensen. But this time, Sorensen got the better of her teammate, finishing the 6,000-meter race in 23 minutes, 2.5 seconds. Dunlap finished the race 15 seconds later.

Dunlap and Sorenson finished 36th and 42nd, respectively, out of more than 100 runners. As a team the women placed 10th out of 12 schools.

Although conference may have wrapped up, the cross country season is not over yet. The Cougars will travel to College Station on Nov. 10 to compete at the NCAA South Central Regional.

Barraza will be looking to make his third trip to the NCAA Championships after qualifying in 2014 and 2015. But anyone else on the squad who makes it to nationals will be going for the first time.

All of the Cougar runners have tried the course at College Station, so they know what to prepare for. If head coach Steve Magness has his teams ready, a handful of runners might make a return trip to the championship in Louisville.

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