COLLEGE STATION, Texas– The Texas A&M men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the Texas A&M Invitational team titles on Friday (16 Sept) morning at the Dale Watts cross country course.
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Eric Casarez led the 1-2-3 finish for the Aggie men, defending the individual title with a time of 23:54.8 on the 8k course. Casarez, a junior, ran in the top pack before taking the lead at 5.7k, splitting 16:51, less than a second ahead of his sophomore teammate Jonathan Chung. By the end of the race, Casarez managed to open a bigger gap, crossing the line as the only finisher under the 24-minute mark. Chung finished runner-up with a 24:05.6, while Chandon Chhikara crossed the line in third place with a time of 24:10.6. Joseph Benn (fifth, 24:28.2) and Gavin Hoffpauir (sixth, 24:30.1) rounded out the scorers for the Aggies.
“It felt good to get a big team win today,” Casarez said. “We didn’t win this meet last year, so it was really nice to get a convincing win today. We knew we were defending our home course, so we ran together and forced the other teams to try to stick with us. We have a good group of guys. As the season continues, we’re looking forward to improving together as a team.”
On the women’s side, the senior trifecta of Grace Plain, Julia Abell (Black), and Abbey Santoro paced the Aggies to the team title. Staying locked with the top pack early on, the trio held their ground through the finish line to earn three of the top five finishes. Plain led the way for the Aggies, finishing in third with a 17:40.5, closely followed by Abell in fourth at 17:42.6. Santoro’s time of 17:55.3 was good enough for fifth, while sophomore Maddie Livingston (seventh, 18:13.0) and freshman Kennady Fontenot (tenth, 18:31.3) also ran to top ten finishes.
“The women did a good job today,” distance coach Wendel McRaven said. “Our top pack stayed together early on and competed all the way to the finish line. I was impressed with Kennady Fontenot today. This was her first race in a Texas A&M uniform, and she showed up and ran really well for us.”
The Aggies travel to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to compete at the Paul Short Run on Friday, September 30.