October 26, 2012

Cross Country Heads to Beaumont for Southland Conference Championships

CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi cross country teams will travel to Beaumont, Texas, Friday to compete at the Southland Conference Championships, hosted by Lamar. The men's 8k race will begin at 9 a.m. and the women's 6k race will follow at 10 a.m. at Tyrrell Park. The women's team is looking to defend their 2011 title while the men's team is hungry for their first title in school history. Last season, the women's team garnered their fourth title in five years while the men's team finished third.

Live Results: Results will be available here. 

In the Running: The Islanders will face all nine of their conference opponents in both the men's and women's races. 

Here's a look at the Southland teams ranked in the South Central regional rankings:

Men:                                                            

4. McNeese State

5. Lamar                                           

7. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi             

9. Stephen F. Austin                          

10. Central Arkansas              

Women:

9. Stephen F. Austin

12. Sam Houston State

14. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi

15. McNeese State

Southland Titles: Last season, the women's team clinched their fourth title in five years, edging Stephen F. Austin by five points. Prior to that, the team placed second in 2010 at Beaumont, but won in 2007 and 2009 on their home course at West Guth Park and in 2008 in Nacogdoches. The Islanders have won a total of eight titles as a team out of 11 conference meets. Before joining the Southland, the Islanders won four as a Division I independent conference.

Two-Time Defending Champion: Two-time Southland Conference Champion and two-time reigning Southland Conference Athlete of the Year Patrick Kimeli, who qualified for the NCAA National Championships for the second straight year returns to the course. Last season, Kimeli helped lead the men's team to a third-place finish at the conference meet. The Eldoret, Kenya native clocked a time of 24:50.7 to edge Lamar's Matt Johnsen by seven-tenths of a second. In 2010, Kimeli won his first individual title in Beaumont with an 8k time of 24:47.0. He joins former Islander and current Assistant Coach Shadrack Songok as the only runners to win the individual 8k title consecutive years. Songok won the title in 2006 and 2007.

Against the Pack: The Islanders have faced several teams from the SLC this season. Both teams have faced Central Arkansas twice, once at the Islanders Splash and again at the Chile Pepper Festival. The men's team has faced Stephen F. Austin once, with the women facing them twice at Rice and the Chile Pepper Festival. The women's team has ran against McNeese State twice this season, once at the Rice Invite and again at the Chile Pepper, while the men's team only faced them at Rice. Both squads faced Lamar and Sam Houston State at the Rice Invite. At the Chile Pepper Festival both squads ran against Northwestern State and Oral Roberts.

Women's 6k: Senior BreAnna Briggs, junior Cecilia Jones, sophomores Vanessa Galindo, Jasmine Boutte, Kayla Fischer, Alexandria Rossi and freshmen Regina Salinas, Alexandra Fernandez, Ashley Mills are slated to compete in the 6k. Briggs is the only returner who ran at last season's conference championship. She clocked a 6k time of 22:23.5 to finish in 19th place.

Men's 8k: The men's team returns everyone from a team that placed third last season at the conference meet. Kimeli, along with seniors Daniel Barlow, Adrian Marquez, Jacob Abrego and sophomores Philipp Baar, Christoph Hintz, Paul Hansel, Valentinas Rudys and Brandon Lacy are set to run. Kimeli, Rudys, Baar and Hintz all return to the course from a year ago. Rudys and Baar finished back-to-back after Kimeli in 22nd and 23rd places, respectively. Rudys clocked an 8k time of 26:13.5 and Baar followed with a time of 26:13.6. Hintz finished in 25th place with a time of 26:15.9.   

Islanders in the Rankings: In the latest USTFCCCA South Central Regional Rankings the Islanders women's team sits in 14th place while the men are ranked seventh. The men's team sits behind McNeese State (4th) and Lamar (5th) in the conference. The women's team sits behind Stephen F. Austin (9th) and Sam Houston State (12th) and ahead of McNeese State (15th).

Spotlight Runners: Briggs has earned Southland Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors twice this season. 

Islanders Head Coach Shawn Flanagan is in 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.   

2012 Season: This season the Islanders have performed well at their four meets. At the UTPA Bronc Relays, both the men and the women took the top spots. At the Rice Invite, the women's team placed third in the 4k and the men's team clocked a fourth-place finish in the 6k. At the Islanders Splash, the men and women both swept the top spot. The men's team clinched first place by one point over Southland opponent Central Arkansas, marking the third straight year the Islanders have won the Islanders Splash. The women's team also topped Central Arkansas to bring home the title, after finishing second at last year's Splash. Two weekends ago, the men's team made history at the Chile Pepper Festival, clocking a third-place finish out of 34 teams in the 10k at the 24th Annual Chile Pepper Festival, marking their best finish in school history at Agri Park. The women's team placed 21st out of 43 teams in the 6k and second in the Southland Conference.

Up Next: The Islanders will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the NCAA South Central Regional on Fri., Nov. 9.

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).