CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's and women's cross country teams will head to Houston, Texas, Friday to compete in the 37th Annual Justin F. Cooper Memorial Rice Invitational on the campus of Rice University. The women's 4k will start at 6:15 p.m. and the men's 6k will follow at 6:45 p.m.
"The Rice Invitational will be a very good one with most of the top 10 men's teams there as well as over half of the women's top 10 teams," Head Coach Shawn Flanagan said.
In the Running: The Islanders will compete against a total of 10 schools, including Southland foes Lamar, McNeese State and Stephen F. Austin. Houston Baptist, Houston, Texas Southern, Trinity, Texas State, Texas A&M and host Rice round out the competition.
Ready, Set, Go: Set to compete for the No. 9-ranked women are BreAnna Briggs, Cecilia Jones, Vanessa Galindo, Shelby Polasek, Jasmine Boutte, Alexandria Rossi, Kayla Fischer, Chelsey Arambula, Regina Salinas, Ashley Mills, Samantha Hardin and Alexandra Fernandez. For the No. 6-ranked men, Patrick Kimeli will lead the way along with Abel Koskey, Daniel Barlow, Paul Hansel, Philipp Baar, Brandon Lacy, Adrian Marquez, Julian Pfeiffer, Christoph Hintz, Valentinas Rudys and Jacob Abrego.
Looking Back: Last season both teams had a strong night at the 36th Annual Justin F. Cooper Memorial Rice Invitational. The Islanders clinched the runner-up spot in both the men's 5k and the women's 4k on the campus of Rice University. Kimeli finished as the top individual runner in the men's race.
Opening Sweep: Both teams swept the top spots for the second straight year Friday, Aug. 31, at the Rio Grande Valley Classic. The Islanders men's team sealed the top four spots while the women's team took the top three against Texas - Pan American in their first race of the season.
SLC Honor: Briggs was named the Women's Southland Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week, during the week of Monday, Sept. 3. Briggs teamed with Boutte to take the top spot in the eight-mile race with a time of 44:30. Briggs led the women's team with a 3.8-mile time of 21:55. The women's team claimed three of the top five spots at the race. Hansel received honorable mention accolades for his first-place finish with Kimeli. Hansel teamed with Kimeli to lead the men in the eight-mile race with a time of 37:05. Hansel led with a 3.8-mile time of 18:18.
Islanders in the Rankings: In the latest USTFCCCA South Central region rankings the Islanders women's team moved up two spots in the NCAA South Central Regional poll to break into the top 10 at No. . The men's team maintained its spot in sixth place and second in the Southland behind Lamar.
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.
2011 Success: 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 Rice Invite, the Islanders will host the 13th Annual Islander Splash at West Guth Park on Friday, Sept. 28. The Islanders will then 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: The Islanders will return home to host the Islander Splash on Fri., Sept. 28, at West Guth Park. The women's 5km will begin at 6:20 p.m. followed by the men's 8km at 6:45 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).