TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Texas A&M senior Hillary Montgomery placed fifth in the SEC Cross Country Championships held Friday at the Harry Pritchett Running Course to lead the Aggie women to a sixth-place effort in the team scoring. In earning All-SEC first team honors Montgomery ran a time of 19 minutes, 56.1 seconds in covering a course that measured 5,872 meters.
“It’s a huge honor to be All-SEC first team,” noted Montgomery. “I just feel so lucky I’ve been able to keep progressing, moving up each year and trusting in the process. I think Coach McRaven has done a really good job keeping us rolling in the right direction and getting us ready at the right time.”
A&M sophomore Karis Jochen finished eighth in the race to earn All-SEC second team honors for the second consecutive year. Jochen ran a time of 20:08.8 and was the third fastest sophomore in the field. Grace Fletcher posted a 20:40.2 to place 16th in the conference race. The score for the Aggies with its top three runners across the finish line was 29, which was only topped by the 10 points scored by the Arkansas trio.
Dominique Scott and Grace Heymsfield of Arkansas repeated their 1-2 finish from 2013 as Scott ran 19:22.8 with Heymfield finishing in 19:32.3. Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase placed third in 19:32.4 with Rhianwedd Price of Mississippi State fourth at 19:53.8.
The Aggie women scored 187 points as they finished behind Arkansas (32), Vanderbilt (85), Alabama (140), Missouri (142) and Mississippi State (171). Finishing behind A&M were Florida (201), Kentucky (215), Auburn (217), Georgia (222), Tennessee (274), Mississippi (275), South Carolina (348) and LSU (385).
“Our girls up front continue to show progress while we also had the best four and five effort we’ve had all year,” noted Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “We are not content with our finish, but pleased.”
Haley Deakins (22.04.6) finished as the fourth Aggie, placing 80th overall with a mark of 71 in adjusted scoring, while Laura Craig was the fifth A&M runner, placing 102nd (22:44.3) which adjusted to 87th. The rest of the squad included Ashley Chamberlain (108th – 22:56.4), Katie Pia (111th – 23:05.0), Melanie Enriquez (112th – 23:08.1), and Johanna Galloway (113th – 23:11.1).
“I think our girls put themselves out there today and we ran with a lot of confidence,” said Montgomery. “My legs didn’t feel good today as we’ve still been training hard. So, I think that’s a good sign as we get to regionals and nationals I should be ready to go. I’m happy with the effort today and know I can do better.”
Ryan Miller led the Aggie men, placing 27th with a time of 25:17.5 on a course that measured 8,085 meters. Texas A&M repeated its eighth place team finish from last season as the Aggies scored 207 points.
“I thought I got out well with my teammates,” said Ryan. “It felt good halfway through the race and was constantly moving up. We were aiming for a top three spot in conference. Looking at our workouts we thought we had the opportunity to do that. We had the talent and training behind us, but just weren’t able to put it together today. We have another race in two weeks at regionals and hopefully we can show what we are worth and make it to nationals.”
The rest of the scoring five for the A&M finished in a close pack with Isaac Spencer in 42nd (25:36.5), Cameron Villarreal finishing 44th (25:39.0), Austin Wells placing 46th (25:40.7) and Austin Geerts at 48th (25:42.8). Rounding out the squad were Ryan Teel (53rd – 25:53.0), Christian Farris (57th – 25:56.3), Colin Slattery (74th – 26:17.7), and Elliott Farris (27:08.9).
“We had a couple of guys stick their nose up there,” stated McRaven. “I’m really proud of Ryan. He’s a guy who has really progressed over the past five years. The longer he goes, the better he is.
“The men had a major improvement over how we raced two weeks ago. Spencer had a rough day as typically he is our first runner. Even though a couple of the guys were having trouble out there they kept battling. We’ll never be content with an eighth-place finish.”
Arkansas repeated as the men’s team champion, but just barely, as they scored 54 points to hold off the challenge by Mississippi (60), Auburn (77) and Missouri (87). Kentucky (120) placed fifth ahead of Alabama (195) and Tennessee (205). Finishing behind the Aggies were Mississippi State (249), Florida (251), Georgia (255), Vanderbilt (357) and LSU (361).
Razorback Stanley Kebenei, the runner-up in 2013, claimed the men’s individual title with a time of 23:49.3 over Auburn’s Ty McCormack (23:58.7). The top five finishers also included Wes Gallagher of Mississippi (24:21.3), Gabe Gonzales of Arkansas (24:26.5) and Missouri’s Tyler Schneider (24:30.3).