With temperatures hovering in the mid-nineties as the first official cross country meet of the 2015 season commenced, the Texas runners kept it hot on the course en route to dominant victories by both the men and women.
The visiting Texas State Bobcats failed to notch a runner in the top five of either race. The first six runners in the women’s 3K race were Longhorns, and the first seven finishers in the men’s 5K came from Texas, as well.
Freshman Alex Cruz lead the way in the women’s race, finishing in a time of 10:37.91, more than 14 seconds ahead of her closest teammate.
Although she ran alone, ahead of the field for much of the race, Cruz credits her peers for pushing her to an impressive first showing as a Longhorn.
“I did well with the help of my teammates,” Cruz said. “I could hear them behind me talking to each other. As soon as I finished, I turned around to cheer them on. It’s a great feeling knowing we finished so strong.”
Following Cruz to the line was another freshman, Jordan Welborn, senior Connor Ward, and freshman Meghan Lloyd in fourth place. With freshmen claiming three of the top four spots, it’s evident that Texas will require fervent finishes from its younger competitors to sustain continued success as the season progresses.
Key upperclassmen on the women’s side, including juniors Sandie Raines and Katie Ruhala, sat out of the race, but assistant coach Brad Herbster still alluded to the importance of big races from young runners.
“As we go through the season, we need that youth to really step up and not limit themselves,” Herbster said. “It was good to see Alex step up and win.”
The men’s race provided a tighter finish at the front, as sophomores Connor Hendrickson and Jacob Pickle and senior Brady Turnbull all finished within one second of each other to decide positions one through three. Hendrickson crossed the line first, finishing with a time of 15:45.69, 22 one-hundredths of a second before Pickle.
Turnbull wound up in third, but in a pack of three that tight, final positions are miniscule in importance in comparison to the overall manner in which the team performed.
“I thought the group looked good,” Turnbull said. “We had a race plan, and I thought we executed it pretty well. We were talking, encouraging each other. That will be important for the races to come.”
Running alongside the two sophomores, Turnbull has the seasoned experience and leadership to get the most out of his teammates’ performances.
“He’s our only senior, but he’s also a good leader,” Herbster said of Turnbull. “Having his leadership is really big.”
Texas will look to get continued guidance from Turnbull and distinguished results from the rest of the team in their next meet, as they get set to compete in the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station on September 26.