Terre Haute, Ind. – Running on a muddy course, with race time temperatures in the 20's, Texas A&M juniors Isaac Spencer and Hillary Montgomery competed in the NCAA Cross Country Championships amid gusting winds on Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship course Saturday.
The challenging venue and extreme conditions took its toll on the field. Spencer placed 114th in the men's 10,000 meter race while Montgomery finished 190th in the women's 6,000 meter event. There were 253 finishers in both the men's and women's races.
Racing first, Spencer recorded a time of 31:25.1 in the process of defeating a handful of runners who had bettered him previously this season. Spencer previously ran 31:47.2 to place 200th when he was a freshman in 2011. Montgomery, who fell at the 1,000 meter mark as the course reached its first turn, clocked a time of 21:58.1.
“It was a nice improvement for Isaac,” stated Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “He was here two years ago and was our seventh man on a team that finished 18th in the country. Now he was here as an individual and I think he did a good job of putting himself in position amid tough conditions. He battled well and this is the best cross country season he's had since he's been at A&M. That bodes well for the track season for him.
“It's unfortunate that Hillary fell in the first 1,000 meters of the race. But that is part of racing. It's something that she will learn from and hopefully grow from in the future. She's a competitive individual and has made a ton of progress. It was good to see her get back up and compete.”
In the early stages of the men’s race Spencer was 79th as he reached the 3,000m split in 8:41.1. When the field crossed 8,000m he was in 108th place with a 24:55.3 split. Spencer covered the final 2k in 6:29.8. After falling Montgomery split 6:33.4 at 2,000m and was in 203rd. She improved to 177th place by 4,000m as she split 14:03.1 (7:29.8) and then covered the final 2k in 7:55.1.
Both Spencer and Montgomery are eager to have their teammates join them so the Aggies can compete as a team during the national meet next season.
“Running as an individual in this race throws off your routine of being with your teammates,” noted McRaven. “But it's a maturing process for them since they have to rely on themselves in this type of environment.
“Before we left the course both were already talking about how we need to have both teams compete here next season. Isaac experienced that as a freshman and he understands what that experience is like to be here with teammates, and how different that is from racing as an individual. The women were so close to being here as a team this year after they tied for second place in the region meet. We need them to take it to the next level.”
Colorado upset favored Oklahoma State for the men's team title. The Buffalos scored 149 points to better runner-up Northern Arizona (169) by 20 points. Defending champion Oklahoma State finished third with 230 points. BYU (267) and Oregon (274) rounded out the top five.
Edward Cheserek of Oregon won the men's race by 18 seconds, clocking 29:41.1, over defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech (29:59.1).
The women's team title went to Providence, who finished as runner-up in 2012, as they tallied 141 points to finish ahead of Arizona (197), Butler (200), Michigan (215) and Georgetown (225).
Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino, also the runner-up last season, won the individual title in 20:00.3 with just a 3.6 second edge over Emma Bates of Boise State. In last year’s race D’Agostino had been just 0.7 of a second away from victory.
From the South Central region the Arkansas men finished 12th (340) while Texas placed 14th (376). In the women's race Arkansas tied Oregon for 14th as both scored 340 points while SMU placed 31st with 790 points with six of their seven runners completing the race.