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Men’s cross country wins again at Rice Invitational, women finish second

Courtesy Rice Athletics Sophomore Amelie Attenborough finished second at the Rice Invitational with a time of 14:36:0. Attenborough was joined in the top 10 by senior Ellie Schweiker.

By Pavithr Goli     9/12/23 11:31pm

Men’s and women’s cross country kicked off their seasons last Friday when both teams competed at the 47th annual Rice Invitational. The men’s team captured their sixth-straight Rice Invitational title while the women’s team recorded a second-place finish at the meet. 

The men’s team had four top-5 finishes, led by sophomore Gus Gannon who placed second in his Rice debut. Gannon was followed by junior Elliot Metcalf, junior Tyler Strothman and senior Grant Samara who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively. 

Men’s head coach Jon Warren was happy with his squad’s performance to start the season.

“That was excellent,” Warren said. “We had a good showing from Gus [Gannon], Elliot [Metcalf], Tyler [Strothman] and Grant [Samara], which is surprising given where we are in the year. It was a really solid performance and a good start.”

Happy with his second-place finish, Gannon said that he had hoped to clinch first place in front of the home fans.

“I’m satisfied with second on my cross-country debut,” Gannon said. “It would have been nice to get the individual win in front of the home crowd, but a sixth team win in a row at this meet is something special.”

On the women’s team, the Owls were led by sophomore Amelie Attenborough who finished second in the meet, a 4k race, with a time of 14:36.0. Senior Ellie Schweiker was the only other Owl to join Attenborough in the top 10, finishing seventh. 

The women’s Owls ended the meet with a three-way tie for second place between Stephen F. Austin University and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Women’s head coach Jim Bevan said that he was happy with the showing over the weekend and believes that his team has made some significant improvements since last year. 

“For everybody that ran, I was really happy with the efforts,” Bevan said. “Amelie [Attenborough] has improved so much in a year, it is insane. Ellie  [Schweiker] had the best cross-country race she has had in her Rice career. I am very happy about where we are right now, and we just [have] got to get through the heat and keep making progress.”

Attenborough said she hopes to carry this momentum into the rest of the season. 

“After placing around 13th last year it is encouraging to see all my hard work being put to fruition, so I was really pleased to achieve second place,” Attenborough said. “It’s always tricky to know what to expect for the first race of the season, so it’s a great confidence booster going into the rest of the season knowing I have a strong base to build on.”

Looking forward to the rest of the season, the women’s team will be in action Saturday, Sept. 16 when they compete at the Incarnate Word Invite in San Antonio. After this upcoming weekend, the team will travel to Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, Sept. 30 to participate in the Louisville Classic. The American Athletic Conference Championships, which will be hosted in Greenville, N.C., will take place Saturday, Oct. 28.

Attenborough is excited for the upcoming season and is looking forward to competing at a high level with the rest of her team. 

“Some of my fondest memories of Rice so far have been traveling and competing with my teammates … so I’m really looking forward to more experiences like these,” Attenborough said. “This year we’ve got a strong team that is full of potential so I’m really excited to watch everyone improve as the season progresses.”

The men’s team will get back into action later than the women’s team when they travel to Fayetteville, Ark. Friday, Sept. 29 for the Chile Pepper Festival. They will then head to College Station Friday, Oct. 13 to compete in the Arturo Barrios Invitational. 

Gannon said he is eager to race against more competition this year. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing how our team stacks up against some of the best in the nation now that we’re in the American Conference,” Gannon said. “A lot of our guys had fantastic summer training blocks and are really fit so I think we’re going to surprise a few people this year.”

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