Women's Cross Country preview: Pre-Nationals Cross Country Invitational
Oct. 11, 2012
The Texas Women’s Cross Country team travels to Louisville, Ky., this weekend to compete in the Pre-Nationals Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 13. Hosted by the University of Louisville, the invitational will be held at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park on the same 6K course as will be used for the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The 39-team women’s field features eight teams ranked in the USTFCCCA national poll, four of which are top-10.
The Longhorns will split their squad for Saturday morning’s race. Racing in the “Red” seeded race will be seniors Laleh Mojtabaeezamani and Anne Jones and juniors Marielle Hall, Sara Sutherland, Megan Siebert, Jessica Harper and Brittany Marches. Competing for Texas in the “Black” unseeded race will be sophomores Jenna Read and Marissa Lee, redshirt freshman Alaina Perez and freshmen Kendall Howen and Claire Andrews.
UT will also send two team members in sophomore Connor Ward and redshirt freshman Marissa Pekarek to compete unattached at the Concordia Invitational in Cedar Park. The 5K race will take place at 8:00 a.m. at Cedar Park High School.
Last time out, Texas earned its second-straight team victory with 18 points at the 5K Grass Routes Grand Prix in Austin. Hall won the women’s collegiate race in 18:24.54 with Mojtabaeezamani (18:34.58) and Sutherland (18:43.43) grabbing second and third. Jones (fifth, 18:54.53) and Marches (seventh, 19:05.29) 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.
Saturday’s meet will be UT’s last leading up to the Big 12 Championships to be held Oct. 27 in Austin at Jimmy Clay Golf Course. Texas will host the event for the second time, last hosting the event in 2003. The women’s 6K race is scheduled for 10 a.m. Central while the men’s 8K will take place at 11 a.m. Admission will be free to the public.