Texas A&M’s Eric Casarez claimed the men’s 8k individual title setting a Dale Watts Cross Country Course record, while the Aggies’ women’s team won the overall team title Saturday morning at the Texas A&M Team Invitational.
“Normally, when we host a meet, it’ll bring some rain, but today we had great weather, and our people were ready to run,” head coach Pat Henry said. “Eric Casarez looked great, and the men’s team looked good. They got beat by a good North Texas team by one point. They learned today that every single person is important. It’s a team competition, everybody counts and I hope they learned that today. The women were a little bit more dominant today. They’ve got some big-time competitions coming their way where they may need to run a little bit better as a group than they did today.”
From the moment the gun went off, Eric Casarez asserted his dominance leading the entire men’s race before finishing with a course record time of 23:04.0. The speedster jumped out, running the first 2k at 5:40.2, nearly 15-seconds faster than the nearest competitor. Casarez continued to speed away from the field, holding a nearly 41-second lead at the 5.7k split, before finishing 43-seconds ahead of runner-up Caleb Bouchard of North Texas.
“I knew Eric [Casarez] was fit coming in,” distance coach Wendel McRaven said. “He’s had some great training and some great workouts. He had a rough season last year and is bouncing back. He’s running with a little chip on his shoulder. Obviously, we had very nice conditions, but to break the course record held by a guy that won the SEC Championship and was an All-American is a really good sign.”
Eric Casarez bettered the course record, previously held by Alabama’s Antibahs Kosgei, by 20-seconds. The victory marked Casarez’s second consecutive title on the young season.
Gavin Hoffpauir, Brady Grant and Joseph Benn each recorded top 10 finishes. Hoffpauir placed eighth at 24:03.7, Grant ninth at 24:04.6 and Benn 10th at 24:09.6. Tim McElaney rounded out the top five finishers for the Maroon & White at 16th with a time of 24:25.8. Texas A&M placed second in the team standings with 44 points, one point behind North Texas.
Powered by three Aggies finishing in the top five of the women’s race, the Maroon & White secured the team title with 23 points defeating Rice by 26 points. Black led the group finishing third overall at 17:31.1, followed by Maddie Livingston in fourth at 17:49.7 and Grace Plain in fifth at 17:50.8. Gemma Goddard placed seventh with a time of 18:00.5 and Emma Ellis 10th at 18:07.9.