COLLEGE STATION, Texas – For the second consecutive season, both the men’s and women’s cross country programs at The University of Texas have qualified for next week’s NCAA Championships with second-place finishes at Friday’s NCAA South Central Regional meet. The men finished with 76 points while the women finished with 99 points. The race was run on the Watts Cross Country Course in College Station.
MEN’S 10K RACE
• The Longhorn men advanced to NCAA Championships with a second-place finish. The UT men finished with 76 points, just behind Arkansas who won with 59 points. The Longhorns are headed to NCAA Championships for the 36th time in program history and the 10th consecutive season.
• Three men finished in the Top 10 to earn All-Region, as redshirt junior John Rice led the way with a sixth-place finish. He ran a time of 31:44.3. Sophomore Sam Worley finished ninth with a time of 32:01.0 while senior Alex Rogers was right on Worley’s heels for a 10th-place finish in a time of 32:01.7.
• Two sophomores rounded out the Texas Top 5. Garek Bielaczyc finished in a time of 32:13.3 for a 15th-place finish to earn All-Region honours, while Jake Johnson finished 39th in a time of 33:08.1.
• Seniors Pedro Nasta (60th, 33:40.4) and Charles Mills (117th, 35:39.9) also ran for the Longhorns in Friday’s regional meet.
WOMEN’S 6K RACE
• The Longhorn women advanced to NCAA Championships by virtue of their second-place finish at the meet. The UT women finished with 99 points, behind Arkansas. It is the 16th time in school history that Texas has qualified, and the second season in a row.
• For the sixth time this season, junior Destiny Collins paced the Longhorns. She finished seventh overall to earn All-Region with a time of 20:46.5.
• Also for the sixth time this season, senior Alex Cruz finished second on the team with a ninth-place finish. It was a season-best time of 20:54.0 for Cruz as she earned All-Region recognition.
• Junior Abby Guidry also earned All-Region as she ran a season-best time of 21:28.1 to finish third for UT in Friday’s meet. She placed 20th overall.
• Senior Meghan Lloyd finished fourth on the team and 32nd overall with a time of 21:46.8.
• Sophomore Madeline Vondra rounded out the scoring for the Longhorns, coming in just behind Lloyd with a 34th-place finish. She ran a time of 21:51.9.
• Senior Jordan Welborn (22:43.9) and junior Olivia Thompson (22:52.9) also competed in Friday’s NCAA South Central Regional.
• The four teams that finished directly after Texas were Texas State (122), Texas A&M (154), Rice (162) and SMU (166). Arkansas won the region with 21 points.
Both programs have advanced to next Saturday’s (Nov. 17) NCAA Championships in Madison, Wisc. The meet will take place on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, where the Horns ran earlier this season at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. The women’s 6k meet will begin at 10:45 a.m. CT while the men’s 10k will go off at 11:45 a.m. CT.
THEY SAID IT
Men’s Distance Coach Pete Watson on race execution: “The Top 4 were brilliant. That is the heart of a really good squad. They ran controlled, stayed together and executed perfectly today. Jake Johnson stepped up and was our fifth man for the first time this year. He probably could have finished a little higher but followed instructions to shadow Texas A&M’s fifth and be our safety. Moving forward, the goals haven’t changed. We want to be better each week and to be ready for next Saturday. Today showed the process and training and worked and that the team is fit. Now we line up against the best teams in the country and give it a go.”
Redshirt Junior John Rice on qualifying for NCAA Championships: “It feels great to qualify and I’m pleased to have played a part. We’ve done it for a decade straight, so we’ve really been looking forward to getting back on November 17. We definitely don’t take anything for granted, but we just needed to come in and get the job done. When we showed up in August, our focus has been on November. We are pretty excited to be back. We have guys like Garek (Bielaczyc) and Jake (Johnson) coming around at the right time, so we’re excited to go out to Madison and have our best showing of the season. We weren’t putting the carriage before the horse, so we were focused on this weekend and I’m sure we will sit down with Coach Watson this week and go through some things to improve and be ready.
Senior Alex Rogers on helping the team qualify in his senior season: “It always feels great to help the team, no matter where you finish. John (Rice) and Sam (Worley) had a great race and deserve more credit than I do in getting the team to Nationals. It’s exciting to get back there again. We wanted to win the race, and despite the tough conditions, we ran well and came up just short. Qualifying was the most important thing, though, and we accomplished that. With both the men and women qualifying, it’s both exciting and fulfilling. I love this team and our coaches. For me it’s the last dance, so I want to go up there, give it my all, and I hope to accomplish the elusive All-America status I’ve been after since coming to Texas.”
Sophomore Sam Worley on running a strong race to help the Longhorns qualify: “It’s exciting to be moving on to NCAAs again and it’ll be another opportunity to run big. The level of excitement is high going into Nationals. This is what we’ve worked for all summer and fall. All the hard work has led to this next meet, so it’s going to be fun to go out, leave all that built up work out on the course one last time. The goal heading back to Madison is to compete and run past our potential. We have finished in the back few spots in the last couple of years and we want to place much better than that next week.”
Women’s Distance Coach Pete Watson on today’s performance: “I’m so proud of this team. We have gone through a lot of ups and downs this fall, but they persevered and had their best race of the season when it counted the most. It’s especially impressive given the extremely tough conditions – the rain, wind and mud seemed to make them even stronger. The ladies were so excited. They know all the work and challenges that went into this. Today, they will savour this accomplishment, but they’ll be ready to get back to work, refocus our efforts to help achieve our goals next week at Nationals.”
Destiny Collins on advancing for the second straight season: “It feels amazing to move on and make Nationals again! I never take making it to a National Championship for granted, so I’m super pumped for the womens team and well as the men’s team to be going to Wisconsin for NCAAs. The excitement level is through the roof, honestly. We had a rough Big 12 meet so we knew we had to run better this week and try to get that qualifying spot. We really ran tough through the windy, cold and muddy conditions. I’m really proud of the team and excited to get to compete again next weekend. The goals for next week are to run a solid race, from the start to the middle to the end. Hopefully, if we do that, we will be pleased and finish in the Top 25.”
Senior Alex Cruz on her race and qualifying for Nationals: “It feels amazing! We knew today was a day where we had to embrace the conditions and run with integrity to qualify for NCAAs. The girls are so ecstatic for running a great race and punching that ticket is just another move in the right direction for Texas distance. Coming in second to Arkansas is great as they’re a ranked team, but we showed we can run with them today. Our goals going into Nationals are to run another well-executed race and finish the season with a great placing.”