ST. PAUL, Minnesota – Texas A&M sophomore Karis Jochen produced a top 10 finish in Minnesota’s 29th annual Roy Griak Invitational as she led the Aggie cross country team to a 13th-place finish among a field of 37 teams. Jochen covered the 6,000-meter distance in 21 minutes, 20.0 seconds to place eighth among a field of 390 runners.
Grace Fletcher produced a top 20 finish for A&M in placing 19th while fellow senior Hillary Montgomery finished 36th on the challenging Les Bolstad Golf Course. Fletcher ran a time of 21:46.2 with Montgomery posting a 22:10.7. The next two scoring places for the Aggies were claimed by Haley Deakins (176th, 23:50.5) and Melanie Enriquez (228th, 24:23.2).
“This race was really exciting because coming into it I knew the quality of teams and individuals that were competing here,” noted Jochen. “I took it as a challenge and I knew I was physically ready to compete against this field.
“It played out beautifully. Our top three girls worked really well together through the first 3K. We were all in the top 15 at that stage. To see three girls in maroon up with the leading group was so cool. That really helped me and made me excited during the race.”
The A&M women totaled 400 points in placing 13th, one spot ahead of a Butler (431) squad ranked No. 11 in the nation.
“We still have work to do with our fourth and fifth runners, but it’s getting better,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “The top three did well again, but I don’t think any one of them would consider it a great race. They’re three really good runners, so that even on an average day they are still among the elite runners. Karis placing in the top 10 was really good.”
The top five women’s teams included No. 3 ranked Michigan State (66), No. 9 Iowa State (102), No. 30 North Carolina (174), No. 20 Boise State (185) and Baylor (204). Vanderbilt, ranked 22nd in the nation, finished as the top SEC squad with 237 points for eighth place while Missouri scored 380 for 11th place. A third team from the South Central region, Texas, finished 22nd (608).
Isaac Spencer led the Texas A&M men to a 16th place team effort as the Aggies scored 462 points. Spencer ran 25:41.8 on an 8,000-meter course in finishing 33rd. Austin Wells was the second A&M runner to finish, placing 58th with a time of 26:02.8 while Ryan Miller ran 26:29.4 to place 101st. The final two scoring places were claimed by Elliott Farris (137th, 26:56.5) and Austin Geerts (166th, 27:12.8).
“We wanted to do better as a team today,” stated Spencer. “This course is pretty challenging. We knew that coming in, but you don’t really know until you’ve raced it. A lot of the other schools have raced here before and knew what to do. It was good to compete with the teams in this field and we will probably see half of this field again in Wisconsin.”
The top five teams in the men’s field included Southern Utah (142), No. 29 Colorado State (146), Minnesota (149), Michigan State (162) and No. 27 Iowa State (162). The top SEC school to finish was Missouri (391) in 14th while the Aggies placed ahead of Kentucky (21st, 532) and Vanderbilt (31st, 953). From the South Central region No. 24 Texas (215) finished sixth while Texas-Arlington (548) was 23rd.
“We had a bit of a rough one for the men,” said McRaven. “Isaac stuck his nose in there, even though he wasn’t feeling great, and had an ok effort while Austin Wells had a solid race. We were in a bigger field this week compared to when we ran at home, so it was a bit of test to see how they would race. They have to be able to keep their cool out there when racing against this many teams.”
Colin Slattery finished as the sixth Aggie for the men as he placed 176th in 27:91.7 with Ryan Teel (181st, 27:23.4) following behind. The remainder of the A&M crew included Christian Farris (185th, 27:28.7), Colin Stoeber (199th, 27:41.3), and Julian Castellano (259th, 29:01.5).
Johanna Galloway (252nd) was the sixth Aggie finisher for the women as she ran 24:37.7 with Amelia McElhinney (259th) close behind in 24:41.5. The rest of the A&M crew included Katie Pia (285th, 24:59.1) and Kelsey Persyn (292nd, 25:06.5) while a pair of Aggies did not finish.