Men's Cross Country adds to NCAA top 20 streak, Women's Cross Country continues improvement
Thanks to the legs of junior two-time NCAA Champion Leo Manzano, The University of Texas men's cross country team was able to extend their streak of top-20 national meet team finishes to four at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., that concluded in mid-November.
Texas earned a 17th-place finish in the Cross Country Championships.
Added to a 12th-place finish in 2004 and a pair of seventh-place results in 2005 and 2006, the Longhorns are enjoying their own second-longest streak of top-20 national finishes with four. The all-time UT mark is eight straight top-20 results from 1984-91.
Manzano, who received All-America honors in cross country for the first time, wound up 27th on the 10-kilometer course. Seniors Jake Morse and Erik Stanley also enjoyed success in the meet.
This top-20 result followed an impressive showing in the NCAA South Central Regional Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., when the Longhorns were runners-up to the host school.
"The goal was to finish in the top two," associate head coach Jason Vigilante said. "We felt good about that experience." Manzano, again, paced the Horns with an eighth-place finish over 10 kilometers in the regional.
Before that meet, the UT men wound up third in the Big 12 Championships in Lubbock.
Reflecting on the season, Vigilante said, "Our goal was to push ourselves to the edge. Each of our team members can look each other in the eye and say they gave their best effort.
"I'm very proud of our team and the effort they put forth."
Men's Track and Field head coach Bubba Thornton reminded when the 2007 cross country season began: "Please make sure you say the credit goes to Jason. He heads the cross country team and has really done an excellent job of putting the team together. The credit goes to Jason."
Likewise, Women's Track and Field head coach Bev Kearney cedes leadership of the women's cross country team to assistant coach Stephen Sisson, who returned to his alma mater in August 2006.
Betzy Jimenez' performance in the South Central Regional Championship -- a 15th-place finish on the 6,000-meter course -- guided Texas to a fifth-place finish in the event. Jimenez earned a spot on the NCAA All-South Central Regional team with her result. The fifth-place finish topped UT's seventh-place finish in the Regional Championships in 2006.
"We placed where we were ranked," Sisson said, discussing the 2007 tally. "Our runners have improved unbelievably since last year and we have every expectation that they will perform even better."
They did well in the Big 12 Championship, recording their best finish in that meet in four years with a ninth-place standing.
"We're happy with the improvements," Sisson said. "But, we are not completely satisfied with where we are. Our (cross country) season and conditioning have put us in a great place for track season. We're very hungry for track after the work this fall."