CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's and women's cross country teams will head to Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas, on Friday, as that will be the host of the 2013 NCAA Cross Country South Central Regional.
A little different than the other races the Islanders have competed in this year, the men's race will start first at 10 a.m. This will also mark the first time the team has ran a 10k this season.
"I think the men's team going into this meet is looking pretty solid," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. "We're ranked ninth in the region, and we'd like to see improvement from last year where we finished eighth in the meet. I think this year's team is a little stronger than last year."
Looking to lead A&M – Corpus Christi will be Philipp Baar, as he earned a place on the Southland Conference Second Team All-Conference with a seventh-place finish in the conference meet.
The rest of the lineup will look exactly the same as a few weeks ago, with a combination of three seniors and three freshmen rounding out the list of competitors for the Islanders. The experienced seniors are made up of Jason Garcia, Justin Adame and Jacob Abrego. On the other end of the spectrum it is Edgar Martinez, Cesar Gonzalez and Daniel Guerrero who will run in their first regional meet.
There will be some stiff competition for the Islanders to get past, as Arkansas and Texas sit atop the rankings coming into the regional meet. The two schools have combined to win seven out of eight of these meets.
A total of five Southland schools are ranked in the top 15 heading into Friday, the most out of any conference in the region. After winning the conference meet, Lamar heads into the meet ranked fourth, while Stephen F. Austin is two spots ahead of the Islanders in seventh. McNeese State and Sam Houston State round out the ranked schools at 11 and 15, respectively.
Shortly after the men's race concludes, the gun for the women's 6k race will sound at 11:15 a.m.
"The women have had a very up and down season," Flanagan said. "The conference meet wasn't what we were hoping for, but we're hoping to improve on our finish Friday. We've had a few athletes come down with sickness, so our list of competitors will look a little different, but it will be a good opportunity for those individuals to go out and run in a big spot.
"We're ranked 14th out of the 40 teams in the region, and we'd like to even improve upon that, so we just need a good solid day out of everyone out there."
The women will also be looking to both ends of the spectrum, needing a big performance out of a senior and freshman. After a solid career, Cecilia Jones will look to have a strong outing in her final regional meet. Freshman Brandie Garcia will also have to run well in order for the Islanders to place high. In her first conference meet the Laredo, Texas, native earned a place on the all-conference honorable mention list, coming in 15th.
Also running for the Islanders will be Jasmine Boutte, Vanessa Galindo and Regina Salinas. The runners competing this week who did not compete at the previous meet will be Ashley Mills and Samantha Hardin.
Just like on the men's side, the Southland brings the highest amount of ranked teams to the regional meet, with Lamar (7), Central Arkansas (8), SFA (12) and SHSU (13) joining the Islanders on the list.
However, all of these squads will have a tough time knocking off the perennial powerhouse that is Arkansas. The Razorbacks have won five out of the eight South Central Regionals.
Live results for the race can be found HERE.
For updates on the race and all the latest information, follow Islanders Cross Country on Twitter and Instagram (@IslandersTFXC) and Facebook (Texas A&M Corpus Christi Track & Field/Cross Country).