Texas qualifies for NCAA championships after impressive performance at regionals

Alexander Thompson

The Longhorns will be heading to the NCAA Championships after the men’s and women’s team finished second at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships in College Station on Friday morning.

The women’s team started the day off with an impressive group effort, grabbing second place and a spot at nationals. The men’s team then followed that up by compiling six runners within the top 25 to punch in a ticket to nationals as well.

“Great performances on both sides, they really stepped up,” coach Brad Herbster said. “Punching the ticket, first and foremost, that’s what we came here to do.”

The men’s team ran the 10,000 meter race, the longest distance faced by Texas throughout the whole season. Junior Alex Rogers led the pack and finished third with a time of 30:03.1.

Rogers moved up nine places after the first 2,000 meter split and then moved ahead of the pack by an additional seven places over the final 2,000 meters of the race. Five of Rogers’ teammates joined him at the podium for All-Region honors after the race.

Sophomore John Rice finished No. 12 while juniors Jacob Pickle and Eric Kroon finished side-by-side at No. 19 and No. 20. Sophomore Garek Bielaczyc and Junior Charles Mills finished No. 22 and No. 23. Only one Longhorn didn’t place in the top 25, freshman Sam Worley, who exited the competition with 3,000 meters to go.

“Rogers took care of business, he looked really comfortable.” Herbster said. “The thing I liked about the guys is they were really patient, much like the women. The team scores, we were in third about halfway through the race, but no one panicked. They were really patient and they executed through the second half of the race.”

Four runners in the women’s division earned All-Region honors by finishing in the top 25 for the 6,000 meter race. Sophomore Destiny Collins finished strong at No. 10 with a time of 20:05.4. Sophomore Abby Guidry finished No.16 with 20:23.5. With the numerous top 25 individual finishes, the Longhorns secured second place at College Station.

“Destiny Collins really had a great race, she really pushed up front,” Herbster said. “It’s good seeing the women start it off really well with impacting the race by setting the tone and running in a couple of groups and they got up front and executed really well. Big turnaround from a month ago when we were at Pre-nats and a big building point from conference.”

The men will make their ninth consecutive appearance at nationals, while the women return from missing out last season when competition begins at the NCAA Championships. The Longhorns and other 30 teams competing in Louisville will begin their quest for a national title on Saturday.