Men's cross country season ends with fifth place finish at regionals
It's true that all good things do come to an end, including the 2008 men's cross country season. That was the case this past Saturday as the Owls finished fifth at the NCAA South Central Regional meet, meaning they will not be running in the NCAA National Championship. The team needed to finish third or fourth to have a chance at securing an at-large berth to the national meet.Senior Aaron Robson led Rice with a 14th-place finish overall, and he was followed by junior Brad Morris, junior Simon Bucknell, senior Justin Maxwell, redshirt freshman Michael Trejo and junior Brett Olson to round out the scoring runners. Texas A&M University took first place with 39 points, and Texas A&M senior Shadrack Songok won the overall title with a scorching time of 29:52.
Head coach John Warren was pleased with the Owls' showing at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas, and he said that the team should be proud of their showing against some of the nation's top teams.
"Going into the regional meet, I would have liked to have beaten the University of Texas," he said. "But the reality of fifth was that we ran as best we could."
Warren also felt that the Owls stuck to their strategy of running as a pack very well, which is something he believed could help the Owls to a better finish, especially considering the large number of runners that ran in this race compared to the conference meet.
"They finally did that [ran as a pack] real well," he said. "They ran as a pack for about three miles. They had a really solid performance because of that."
Looking at some of the top runners for the team, Warren identified several who were either team leaders, improved a good amount over the season or were very consistent in their performance in each race. Warren said Robson overcame the odds to race well this year.
"Aaron did a really good job at regionals," he said. "He was above expectations for the year."
Warren was also pleased with Morris' strong effort at the regional meet when the Owls needed him most. Additionally, Warren named Maxwell as the runner he felt performed most consistently throughout the year.
Conference foes University of Tulsa and the University of Texas- El Paso had mixed results at their respective regional meets. Tulsa finished third at the Midwest Regionals and received an at-large spot in the national meet while UTEP, who only ran the minimum five athletes needed to form a full team, did not qualify at all, since one of their runners had to drop out because of injury. However, the Miners will send three runners to run individually at the national meet.
Looking ahead to track season, Warren is confident that the men will be able to make a big impact during the spring.
"Our distance squad is a huge part of the track team," he said. "My expectation is that we can be the best cross country/track team in the conference. We've got a little more depth and a little more variety in events."
As for next fall, the Owls will lose Robson, Maxwell, Olson and Morris to graduation or eligibility limits. Warren said he is looking for runners like Bucknell, Trejo and sophomore Scott Zivick to fill the void left by these runners.
"[Trejo] and [Zivick] are capable of filling that void right away," he said. "We have a nice group of freshmen we think are going to be very good, and [junior] John Buck should be able to step in as well."
He added that freshmen Gabe Cuadra, James Llamas and Matt Carey, all who finished well at the Houston Baptist University Invitational as unattached runners, should be able to make big impacts on the performance of the cross country teamnext year.
More from The Rice Thresher
A new paid and audition-only student pep band will replace the Marching Owl Band at men’s and women’s basketball games and some volleyball matches, according to Rick Mello, Rice’s deputy athletics director. Mello said Rice athletics hopes to have a band of 30 students in place for the first basketball game in November.
Rice University experienced a series of thefts this past week. Six laptops and two iPads were stolen from a Duncan College suite and Duncan Hall respectively, according to the Rice University Police Department in a campus-wide email sent out last Wednesday morning.
As prices for various goods and services continue to rise nationally, student-run businesses and Rice departments such as Housing & Dining and Facilities Engineering & Planning are among those on campus implementing changes to handle this inflationary spike, while also working to keep prices reasonable for students.