Pair of familiar faces at top for cross country
Entering the season, the UH men and women’s cross country teams will rely on a senior from each squad to lead them toward the first American Athletic Conference Championship under head coach Steve Magness.
Last season, Madison Brown and Brian Barraza were the top finishers in every race that they respectively competed in. Both will return for their final year at UH.
In his junior year, Barraza took first place at three different meets, including the NCAA South Central Regional, and made his second straight trip to the NCAA Championships where he finished in 60th place this time around.
Brown took first in the Cougars’ opener and ended her season at the NCAA South Central Regional with a 56th-place finish.
After finishing in third at the conference championships, the men’s team will have to rebound after losing their second and third best runners in James Broussard and Yonas Tesfai. Sophomore Gerardo Javier Reyna and redshirt junior Matthew Parmley will likely be the two who fill out the roster for the Cougars.
Although there is a question on who will become the Cougars No. 3 runner, junior Blake Contreras will seemingly suit up as the second best for Houston. Despite a course and location change, Contreras improved his time at the conference championships from his freshman to his sophomore year by nearly a minute.
Redshirt junior Chris Ibarra and seniors Gabe Lara and Edwin Munoz will compete for the third spot while also rounding out the starting seven for the Cougars.
Unlike the men’s team, the women’s will bring back their top seven finishers at the conference championships, where the team finished in ninth place.
Four of the seven runners on the women’s team were freshmen last season, so an adjustment to the 6000-meter college race had to be made after training for the two-mile race during their high school careers.
Sophomore Meredith Sorensen was the second-best runner last year and finished only 16 seconds and six places behind Brown at the conference championships. She ran a personal best 21:57.12 in the 6K.
Sophomores Nikita Prasad and Britani Gonzales and juniors Ebony White and Emily Morgado will compete for the third through sixth spots on the team. Sophomore Jennifer Dunlap will likely round out the group.
Both teams will open their season at the Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjack Invitational in Nacogdoches on Sept. 2.