COLLEGE STATION – Sam Houston State returns to action on Saturday morning for its second competition of the season, taking part in the 18-team Texas A&M Invitational from the Dale Watts course.
The Bearkats will be joined by Central Arkansas, Houston, Lamar, LSU, Louisiana, McNeese, North Texas, Prairie View A&M, Rice, Southeastern Louisiana, Southeastern Oklahoma (w), Texas A&M, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Texas State, TCU, Texas Wesleyan (m) and UT Arlington.
The collegiate men's field will include 11 teams currently ranked among the top 15 in the South Central region while the women's field has six teams from the top 15. The Watts course will serve as host of the NCAA South Central region meet on November 10.
Sam Houston was last in competition on Sept. 8 at the Norry Hersey Invitational on the campus of Rice University. The men secured a third place finish, backed by a runner-up spot from Jordan Leon, who was named Southland Conference Cross Country Men’s Athlete of the Week.
Alex Hernandez came in 14th at 20:13.19 while freshman teammate David Zavala produced a strong result in his first collegiate meet, collecting 17 total points with a 20th-place result (20:31.65). Meanwhile, the women took fifth, led by Hannah Tarrant’s 11th-place result (14:34.64).
Saturday’s meet marks the first of two consecutive in College Station to close out the regular season. The Bearkats return on Friday, Oct. 6 for the Aggieland Open before gearing up for the Southland Conference Championships in Abilene on Oct. 26.
Head coach Jesse Parker on the preparations for both teams…
“Our preparations for Texas A&M are not much different than our preparations for Rice. We have mostly been focusing on longer, stamina oriented workouts with a continued emphasis on building aerobic fitness along with establishing a good power/strength foundation that will benefit us greatly once we get to track season. This past week was pretty challenging from a training standpoint, but we did back off a little this week to hopefully give us a chance of not racing with "dead legs" on Saturday. But having said all this, it's still early in the season for us. We've mostly been focusing on quality aerobic runs still. Over the next couple of weeks we'll get into some more traditional interval training, but right now I just want to make sure the athletes are as aerobically fit as possible.”
Head coach Jesse Parker on the familiarity of the course…
“We've raced at Texas A&M several times in the previous years, so the athletes that have been here are familiar with it. That definitely helps as they understand how to race intelligently there. But we do have several athletes that have not raced there before, so things will be new for them. This will also been the freshmen's first experience with 8k (for the men) and 6k (for the women). These race distances are longer than what they are accustomed to in high school, so it will be interesting to see how they approach it. You never know what to expect from a freshmen's first true cross country race.”
Head coach Jesse Parker on the level of competition at the event…
“This will be the toughest competition we'll see, up until the regional meet. This meet will include the best teams in our region, so it will be our first real opportunity to see how we measure up. Again, I don't really know what to expect from an outcome standpoint. I mostly just expect us to go execute intelligent and competitive race plans.”