COLLEGE STATION – For a second-consecutive competition, Sam Houston State makes the short trek to Texas A&M. This time, it will be for the final regular-season tune-up.
The Bearkats will participate in the Aggieland Open Cross Country Meet on Friday from the Dale Watts Course beginning at 5:45 p.m. with the women’s 5K. The men will follow with their running of the same event at 6:15 p.m.
Sam Houston will be joined by Baylor, ULM, Prairie View A&M, Tarleton State, Texas Southern, UT Arlington and UTSA. The race also offers a change of pace for the competitors with the men usually running the 8,000 meters and the women the 6,000 meters.
Last time out, the Sam Houston men secured 12th and the women took 13th from the Texas A&M Invitational. For a second consecutive meet, Jordan Leon paced the way for the men, taking 42nd with a mark of 6:11.5 in the 8K.
On the women’s side, Hannah Tarrant also added a 42nd place result in the 6K, vaulting ahead 23 spots over the final four kilometers to finish with a time of 7:24.3. Like Leon, it marked the second consecutive meet to begin the season in which the junior paced action for the Kats.
The next time the Kats take the course following Friday will be at the Southland Conference Championships, held Oct. 26 in Abilene. A season ago, the Bearkat women secured runner-up while the men finished fifth.
Head coach Jesse Parker on the expectations for the final regular season meet…
“Right now we are mostly concerned with the health of the team. It seems we've had several athletes with cold and allergy problems the past week. The number one priority is to be healthy going into the final weeks of preparation for conference, so there may be a few athletes who don't race on Friday with the sole reason being that we want to make sure we don't make any illness issues worse. Other than that, we are just looking to get in a good hard workout. For us, the only meets that have any significance are the conference and regional meets, so everything we do leading up to those meets are simply practices.”
Head coach Jesse Parker on the positive developments within the team…
“I feel like many of athletes have been doing a great job of transitioning from good aerobic fitness, to actual race fitness in the past few weeks. After our last competition at Texas A&M on September 23 we went into a new phase of training and the workouts went from being long, over-distance work to faster, more race specific work. Many are seeing, and feeling, their running economy improve with just a few of these workouts already. This is good as it shows they are fit and adapting to a new training stimulus well.”
Head coach Jesse Parker on individuals stepping up…
“For the woman, I'm really impressed with how Hannah Tarrant has been improving in her race execution. Last year, there was not much pressure on her as she had more of a "support" role on the team. But she has been steadily improving over the past year and is now the leader of the group. Her growth in maturity has been fun to watch. I'm also impressed with Meaghen Seales. Meaghen has traditionally focused more on the middle distances during track season. However, she really focused on becoming a better cross country this past summer and she is as fit as she's ever been. As a coach, it's always excited to see things "click" for an athlete.
“Both Alex Hernandez and Jordan Leon have been incredibly consistent in training this fall. They both set the standard for everyone every day in practice. With both being experienced collegiate athletes, this was kind of expected for both. On the other hand, prior to the season I wasn't sure if David Zavala would be ready to compete at a high level. This is not a knock on him, but I know how challenging the fall of someone's freshmen year can be with the transition to the college life as well as the cross country racing distances getting longer and more competitive. David was kind of thrown into the deep end early, but has adjusted well and is outperforming our initial expectations for him as a freshmen. We are excited to see what he can do over the next several weeks of the season.”