Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #30- Texas A&M

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Texas A&M
Head Coach: Wendel McRaven (3rd Season)
2012 National Finish: N/A

Key Returners from 2012
  • Hillary Montgomery (Jr., 4:33,16:44, 35:10)
  • Grace Fletcher (Jr., 16:46, 35:39)
  • Sophie Blake (Sr., 4:24)
  • Amanda Jenkins (Sr., 9:38, 16:43, 35:35)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Karis Jochen-(Fr., 5th NXN Nats, 5th Footlocker Finals, 10:31 3200m)
  • Katie Willard-(Fr., 4:55, 2:09) 

Season Preview

This pick could come as a surprise to many who have not seen a relevant Texas A&M women's distance program since Natosha Rogers and she was the lone bright spot for the past few years. Although Rogers will most likely not be running anytime soon, these Aggies find themselves at the beginning of 2013 ranked 30th in the country. 

Coach Wendel McRaven has done a fine job developing the athletes he has recruited to College Station and will see that pay dividends in 2013. A third place finish at the South Central Regional in 2012 was just not good enough to make the big dance, but with the experience gained from a good finish to the season, these now veteran athletes are looking to lead the Aggies back to Terre Haute. 

Hillary Montgomery returns as a junior to lead this team having previously been the no. 1 runner at the Regional and no. 2 at SECs in '12. Montgomery is coming off of a good outdoor season where she qualified for the West Regional in the 10000m and will be taking her momentum from outdoor to the cross country course and leading this up-and-coming team. 

Other possible contributors up front for the Aggies are Grace Fletcher, Gabby Salazar and Sophie Blake. Blake appears to be the wildcard of the group because of her ability in the 1500m (4:24). If she can find a way to translate her speed over 6k she will be a factor. Salazar and Fletcher are talented athletes themselves with experience and will be key pieces to their national championship puzzle. 

What will eventually help push this team over the edge and into the field at Terre Haute, is an outstanding recruiting class with experienced, quality harriers. Karis Jochen of A&M Consolidated Class in Texas, placed both 5th at the Foot Locker finals and at NXN National Championships and will bring savvy racing to a team that can use some help up front. Katie Willard of The Woodlands is coming to College Station from a top-tier high school team and her winning ways will add to their depth. 

Auto qualifying out of the South Central Regional will most likely not happen, but this team is good enough to pick up points at earlier meets. If the Aggies can have a good regional race, place third, (or upset Texas or Arkansas), and do well early on in the season, they should see themselves at the Nats for the first time since... 2000.


  1. Rumor has it Willard is not running cross country. If that is true it will have an impact on the team. Interesting that all the key distance runners for the team are from the same neck of the woods- Klein, Kingwood, The Woodlands & College Station. A great region that consistently produces good runners.

  2. Rumor is incorrect.