By Steve Lansdale
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns claimed top individual honors in the men’s and women’s Longhorn Invitational, helping the women’s team claim first place, while the men’s team finished second, just one point behind meet champion North Texas.
Junior Sandie Raines crossed the finish line first in the women’s race, while sophomore Jacob Pickle won the men’s race.
“Sandie winning is always a good thing. Whenever you can win a race like that is always good, especially in front of the home crowd,” head coach Brad Herbster said. “Jacob really put forth a good effort and coming back is always impressive. Both (Raines and Pickle) ran fine and did a good job up front.”
All seven of Texas runners finished among the top 15 places in the women’s 5K race, giving UT a first-place team score of 23 points. Raines’ winning time of 18:18.00 was less than four seconds ahead of freshman Alex Cruz, who finished in second in 18:21.70.
Herbster said the women’s team was helped significantly by the fact that the UT runners stuck together for much of the race.
“Today they did a lot better job. Sticking together through the front half and then going that last K was the goal,” Herbster said. “Having Sandie win the race and come from behind and run a pretty conservative race up front and then turning a 5K race into a 1K race is always challenging, but it’s good to see Sandie and Alex get up there and do well.”
Raines said that part of the reason for her victory was because she and her teammates followed a strict pace for much of the race.
“I felt great today,” she said. “Yeah, it was really easy — well, as easy as this course is. We just went out tempo the first 4K, and (over) the last K, we got to open it up a little. So it felt good.”
The Texas men led for much of the race before falling to UNT, whose team score of 40 was a single point ahead of UT’s 41. Pickle won the race in 25:21.50, while teammates Brady Turnbull (25:33.50) and Alex Rodgers (25:45.80) gave the Longhorns a sweep of the top three spots in the men’s race.
Herbster said North Texas deserved ample credit for its victory, but said there are areas in which the Longhorns can improve.
“I knew going in that we were running in flats and (we were) going to take it out slow,” Herbster said. “We had a few people who were sick, but North Texas is good — you can’t take anything away from them. We just have to do a better job of competing in that middle of the race and make sure that we’re closing out better than … we did today.”
Pickle said that he was pleased with the men’s team’s performance, but said that there is ample room for improvement.
“For the team we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to change going into the championship season,” he said. “But we will be back and definitely be stronger at our next race (Oct. 17 in Louisville, Ky.)”