WACO, Texas -- The 10th-ranked University of Texas men's cross country squad easily landed an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championships by placing four runners in the top 10 on its way to a second-place finish Saturday at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course. Arkansas won the meet with 33 points, as Texas took second with 46 points and Texas A&M placed a distant third with 128 points.
"I'm really proud of our effort today," noted UT head men's cross country coach Jason Vigilante. "We advance to Terre Haute (Ind.) for the NCAA Championships, and we will take our best shot at winning them."
UT senior Joe Thorne (Chamblee, Ga.) led the Longhorns for a second consecutive meet after leading Texas to a second-place finish at the Big 12 Championships on Friday, Oct. 28. Thorne completed the 10-kilometer course in a fifth-place time of 30 minutes, 47 seconds, while sophomore Leonel Manzano (Marble Falls, Texas) followed closely behind in sixth place in 30:52. Senior Jon Von Letscher (Austin, Texas) took eighth in 31:09, while junior Matt Munoz (Kingwood, Texas) rounded out Texas' top-10 quartet, finishing 10th in 31:20.
"It was a little warm today, and we wanted to minimize soreness and things like that," added Vigilante. "Kyle Miller had a stitch and didn't finish the race, which was smart because his completion of the race would not have influenced our starting position (at the NCAA Championships) in Terre Haute. It will be a 10K-race for everyone in Terre Haute."
The 108 runners took to the 10-kilometer course in warm, breezy and muggy conditions under overcast skies. Vigilante noted the winds' effect in maintaining manageable running conditions.
"I'm glad those breezes were around, because if they weren't there, the conditions would have been even more difficult," Vigilante explained. The sun was peaking in and out of the clouds at times. If we had more sunshine and fewer breezes, it would have been miserable out there."
Vigilante was quick to laud the team's effort, and, in particular, the performance of Von Letscher.
"I can't say enough about how well our guys ran up front," Vigilante said. "Jon (Von Letscher) is our No. 3 guy, and he is just clicking right now. He is really doing things the right way, and as a fifth-year senior, he should be.
Texas' second-place showing equaled its performance at the 2004 NCAA South Central Championships, which also were held in Waco.
The Longhorns now will set their sights on the NCAA Championships set for Monday, Nov. 21 at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind. Texas finished 10th in the event a season ago at the same course.
NCAA South Central Regional Championships
Top Five Team Finish
1. Arkansas, 33
2. TEXAS, 46
3. Texas A&M, 128
4. Texas-Pan American, 147
5. Stephen F. Austin, 170
Top 10 Runners
1. Westly Keating (Texas Pan-American), 29:30.75
2. Peter Kosgei (Arkansas), 30:30.25
3. Joshat Boit (Arkansas), 30:30.30
4. Kip Kangogo (TCU), 30:34.60
5. Joe Thorne (TEXAS), 30:47.40
6. Leonel Manzano (TEXAS), 30:52.70
7. Josh Robles (Arkansas), 31:02.05
8. Jon Von Letscher (TEXAS), 31:09.40
9. Adam Perkins (Arkansas), 31:13.90
10. Matt Munoz (TEXAS), 31:20.75
Other Texas Runners
18. Jeff Cutrer, 32:03.55
22. Jake Morse, 32:18.20
Kyle Miller, DNF