Meet serves as preparation for conference championship
The UH cross country team will compete Friday for the final time in the regular season at the Alabama Crimson Classic before gearing up for the American Athletic Conference Championship in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This will be the first time that both Cougars squads will field full teams, and head coach Steve Magness said he is excited to see what they can do.
“We’ve come a long way,” Magness said. “On the men’s side, with sitting out some of our top runners, we really weren’t sure who we’d be able to rely on. The team is starting to emerge, and people are starting to step up. On the women’s side, we’ve had some great individual performances, but now it’s time to put together all the pieces.”
The women’s team has had the advantage of senior runners Selena Sierra and Maddie Brown’s performances. The pair have been the top finishers for the Cougars over the past two seasons.
The duo has helped the Cougars finish in the top 10 as a team in every meet this season. Both runners look to end the season on a high note before heading into the conference championship.
“I have a good feeling about this meet,” Sierra said. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work these past few weeks and I think the strength we’ve built up is going to translate into this race. Coach Magness keeps telling us that we have what it takes to be an overall great team. He always pushes us past any limitations we’ve set out for ourselves. He builds us into physically and mentally stronger runners.“
Despite the absence of some top male runners, sophomore G.J. Reyna has become a consistent leader for the Cougars. Reyna has been the top finisher at every meet he has run in and has helped the team stay competitive.
Magness hopes to see improvement from all of his runners at the Crimson Classic, which is the team’s last chance to fine tune their skills before heading into the conference championship.
Magness said he expects a top 10 finish from the men and a fifth-through-seventh-place finish for the women.
“This is a big meet for us,” Magness said. “It will be the most challenging one all season. Up until now, all the other meets have been dress rehearsals where we work on parts of the race. This one is when it’s time to show the cards we have and see what we can do at conference.”