Women's Cross Country preview: Grass Routes Grand Prix
Sept. 27, 2012
Texas Women’s Cross Country returns home to Austin to compete in the Grass Routes Grand Prix on Saturday, Sept. 29. The second annual invitational will be held at Hancock Golf Course in central Austin and features collegiate, high school, youth and open races. The collegiate women’s 6K will take place at 10:35 a.m. Central.
The Longhorns will split their squad for Saturday morning’s race. Racing for Texas ‘A’ will be seniors Laleh Mojtabaeezamani and Anne Jones, juniors Sara Sutherland, Marielle Hall, Jessica Harper and Brittany Marches and freshman Kendall Howen. Competing for Texas ‘B’ will be junior Melissa Mahoney, sophomores Jenna Read, Marissa Lee and Rachel Gutknecht, redshirt freshmen Marissa Pekarek and Alaina Perez and freshman Claire Andrews.
Last time out, Texas earned a team victory with 56 points at the Pac 12 Preview Elite Invitational in Santa Clarita, Calif., with three Longhorns finishing in the top 10. UT was led by Sutherland, who crossed the line third overall in 17:12. Hall (fourth, 17:34) and junior Megan Siebert (eighth, 17:54) along with Mojtabaeezamani (20th, 18:23) and Jones (21st, 18:25) rounded out Texas’ scoring.
The Longhorns continue their 2012 campaign looking to build off a solid 2011. After opening last season with three team victories, including two in which Texas recorded a perfect score of 15, UT earned its highest national ranking (14th) in more than a decade following an impressive fifth-place performance at the Pre-Nationals meet. At the 2011 Big 12 Championships, the Longhorns placed second with Hall and Sutherland each earning all-league honors. Texas also placed second at the 2011 South Central Regional Championships to earn automatic qualification for the NCAA Championships. All five UT scorers, including four 2012 returnees, finished in the top-25 to earn USTFCCCA All-South Central Region honors.
Under the guidance of seventh-year coach Steve Sisson, Texas has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of the last two seasons, having earned a team spot in 2010 for the first time in seven years. The Longhorns return five of seven members from the 2011 NCAA Championships squad (Mojtabaeezamani, Sutherland, Siebert, Hall and Marches) with Siebert, Hall, Sutherland and Mojtabaeezamani also having competed for Texas at NCAAs in 2010.
In addition to its strong returnee group, Texas also adds significant depth to the roster with a 10-member freshmen class that has already made an impact in the 2012 preseason. Howen and Andrews will look to continue that trend at this weekend’s meet.
The Longhorns will train for two weeks leading up to the Pre-Nationals Cross Country meet on Saturday, Oct. 13, in Louisville, Ky. The meet, which will be run on the same course used for the 2012 NCAA Championships, will be held at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park with the 6K women’s race scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Central.