AMES, Iowa — Texas made its mark but fell short of the top spot as both Texas Cross Country programs competed at Big 12 Championships at the ISU Cross Country Course in Ames.
The Longhorn men finished third overall Friday, while the women finished fifth as Iowa State took home the title in both races. Both the men and women rank No. 2 overall in the USTFCCCA Regional rankings heading into next weekend's (Nov. 9) South Central Regional meet in College Station.
The men finished third with 70 points, marking their seventh Top 3 finish in the last eight seasons at the conference meet. Alex Rogers (seventh), Sam Worley (eighth) and John Rice (14th) all earned All-Big 12 honors.
"The race didn't go as planned, as moves were made and we didn't respond to them properly. But, this was the most complete race we've had as a team,” Rogers, a senior, said. “There's still work to do. Being All-Big 12 is an honor, but we have bigger fish to fry this season.”
The women finished fifth with 113 points, led by Destiny Collins who had a fourth-place finish to earn All-Big 12 honors. Collins, a junior from Great Oak, Calif., ran a season-best time of 20:06.7, earning conference honors for the second straight season and improving upon her seventh-place finish from a year ago.
“Today was such a fast race and the weather was great. I couldn't have asked for better conditions,” Collins said. “Halfway through it got really tough, but I had to stay mentally tough and tell myself 'the faster you run, the sooner you're done.' I have to thank Coach PattiSue (Plumer) for that running mantra.”
Both cross country programs now turn their attention towards the NCAA South Central Regional meet on Nov. 9 in College Station. That meet will begin at 9:15 a.m. CT on the Watts Cross Country Course.
Rogers, a senior from New Braunfels, Texas, earned All-Big 12 honors for the second straight season, improving on his eighth-place finish from a season ago. His time of 23:54.4 was a season-best. Worley, a sophomore also from New Braunfels, also earned All-Big 12 honors for the second-straight season with his eighth-place finish. He finished with a season-best time of 24:06.4.
“I am happy that myself, John and Sam did well, but again, we are looking down the road still for when good races really matter,” Rogers said. “It is a good sign that we are headed in the right direction as a team."
Rice, a redshirt junior from Brooklyn, N.Y. earned All-Big 12 honors for the second straight year by crossing the line in a time of 24:30.1 to finish 14th.
“It wasn't the most well-executed race I've ever run, but when the going got tough, I tried to fight,” Rice said. “Coming off last year's close miss at Big 12s, we wanted to give a go at the win, but hats’ off to Iowa State and Oklahoma State who executed well. Receiving another All-Big 12 recognition is always a meaningful moment for me."
Though the team fell a little short of their overall goal, men’s cross country coach Pete Watson was still pleased with what he saw and the way his squad kept at it during the challenging race.
“That was a solid day,” Watson said. “The boys competed well as a team and we made another step forward as we prepare for the 10k at the Regional meet and NCAA Championships. Alex (Rogers) and Sam (Worley) led the way with nice efforts and maintained composure when they lost contact with the pack late in the race. They lost to some very good runners who will be competing for All-America status in a couple of weeks, so their strong races were definitely a positive.”
Senior Charles Mills bounced back with his best race of the season to finish 17th. After struggling in his first two races, Mills took some time off and came back to finish in a time of 24:41.7, a season-best by 40 seconds. Sophomore Garek Bielaczyc finished 24th to round out the scoring group for the Horns.
“Having Charles (Mills) bounce back after having to take time off was very positive for the team as we are going to need him if we are going to achieve our goals at the NCAA Championships,” Watson added.
Senior Pedro Nasta finished 27th with a time of 25:13.9 while sophomore Jake Johnson finished 28th in a time of 25:18.2. Freshman Brendan Hebert got his first taste of running at the conference meet, finishing in a time of 25:54.3.
As Collins paced the Longhorns, the women’s team had nine of their 10 runners set season-best times.
“I was really proud of the race that Destiny (Collins) had to earn All-Big 12 honors with a strong fourth-place finish,” women’s cross country coach Plumer said. “Although a fifth-place team finish was not what we had hoped for, several women had strong races today. We just need a few other pieces to fall into place and we will be able to have a strong Regional meet to qualify for NCAA Championships and run our best race of the season in Madison in three weeks.”
After Collins, senior Alex Cruz finished second for the Longhorns with a 17th-place finish. She crossed the finish line in a season-best time of 21:02.1. Sophomore Madeline Vondra (21st, 21:06.9), senior Meghan Lloyd (30th, 21:23.7) and junior Abby Guidry (48th, 21:56.2) rounded out the scoring group for the Horns.
“I fell a tad short of my goal of Top 3, but I'm still really happy with the outcome of fourth place,” Collins said. “It was my highest finish yet so that was exciting. It means a lot to rep the burnt orange and keep getting those all-conference finishes, and I'm super excited for Regionals. I'm excited to run again with the team and try to snag a spot to Nationals.”
Olivia Thompson, Jordan Welborn, Claudine Blancaflor, Gabby Crank and Marissa Flournoy also competed at the conference meet and all ran season-best times as well for Texas.