CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's and women's cross country teams will open the 2012 season Friday at the Rio Grande Valley Relays, hosted by Texas - Pan American. The men and women will be running together with each relay race tallying eight miles at the Monte Cristo Golf Course in Edinburg, Texas.
Dual Match Action: The Islanders will compete against the Broncs in a two-runner relay format. Each of the men and women will run two sets of two miles each for a total of eight miles.
Third Time's a Charm: After this weekend, the Islanders will meet up against the Broncs two more times this season, on Sept. 28, at the Islander Splash and Nov. 10, at the South Central Regional Championships.
2011 Rio Grande Valley Classic: Last season the men's and women's cross country squads had a strong performance at the Rio Grande Valley Classic. The men's team sealed the top four spots, while the women claimed four-of-five. Leading the way was Patrick Kimeli with Paul Hansel finishing in second. Brandon Lacy and Justin Adame teamed up to finish third while Jacob Abrego placed fourth. In sixth place was the duo of Philipp Baar and Christoph Hintz. For the women, returners Vanessa Galindo placed third while Shelby Polasek and Jasmine Boutte teamed up to finish fifth.
In the Running: Two-time Southland Conference Champion and reigning Southland Conference Athlete of the Year, Kimeli, who qualified for the NCAA National Championships for the second straight year returns for his senior year. Joining Kimeli at the meet are Hansel, Daniel Barlow, Valentinas Rudys, Baar, Abel Koskey, Abrego, Adrian Marquez and Hintz.
The defending Southland Conference Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's cross country champions will depend on leading returner BreAnna Briggs. Joining Briggs Friday is Boutte, Galindo, Cecilia Jones, Alexandra Fernandez, Kayla Fischer, Samantha Hardin, Alexandria Rossi, Maeghen Wedgeworth, Chelsey Arambula and Ashley Mills.
Islanders in the Rankings: In the USTFCCCA South Central region preseason rankings the Islanders men's team opens the season ranked No. 6. The women's team will kick off the season ranked No. 11 in the preseason rankings.
Islanders Head Coach Shawn Flanagan enters his 12th season as the head coach of the Islanders cross country team and 32nd season as a Division I coach. Flanagan started the cross country program in 2000. He has won four Southland women's titles, four Independent women's titles and three Independent men's titles. Altogether, Flanagan holds 30 Conference titles as head coach, including the 19 conference titles he won at UTSA. He also sealed three conference titles as an assistant coach at the University of Texas, totaling 33 Conference Championships to his name.
Last Season: The women's team clinched their fourth Southland Conference title in five years while the men placed third at the conference meet. Kimeli advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second straight year.
Challenging Field: This season the Islanders will compete against tough competitors in some of the top meets around the region. Following the relays, the Islanders will head to Houston to compete at the Rice Invitational on Friday, Sept. 14. On Friday, Sept. 28, the Islanders will host the 13th Annual Islander Splash at West Guth Park. Following that, the Islanders will wrap the regular season when they trek out of Texas on Saturday, Oct. 13, to Fayetteville, Ark. to compete in the Chile Pepper Invite. On Friday, Oct. 26, the Islanders will look to continue their success at the Southland Conference Championships in Beaumont, Texas, hosted by Lamar. The Islanders will then follow the Championships with the NCAA South Central Regionals on Saturday, Nov. 10, in Fayetteville, Ark. The NCAA National Championships will be held in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Up Next: Rice Invite, Fri., Sept. 14, in Houston, Texas, at 6:15 p.m.
Keep up with the Islanders: For the latest information, follow Islanders Cross Country on Twitter (@IslandersTFXC) and Facebook (Texas A&M Corpus Christi Track & Field/Cross Country).