While most University of Texas students likely spent their Saturday morning sleeping in or enjoying the mild November weather, 14 Longhorns competed against the best runners in the country at the NCAA Division I Championship races in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The elements were particularly brutal for this year’s championship. Temperatures rested just above freezing while rainfall increased throughout the morning. The track became spotted with puddles, leaving mud all over the runners as they sloshed through each turn and straightaway.
Even through all that mud, junior Sam Worley shined brightly for the Longhorns. Worley finished 27th overall in the men’s 10k, a race that featured over 250 runners. He started out like most of the field in a large pack, unable to create much separation. But by the time he reached the halfway point of the race, Worley consistently stayed in the top 40.
“Sam executed his race plan almost perfectly and walked away with his very first All-American award in cross country," Texas men's distance coach Pete Watson said.
Texas finished 25th out of the 31 teams competing in the men’s event. Three of Texas’ top five were all freshmen, a sign that the Longhorns will surely be looking to improve upon this year’s performance next season.
“Placing 25th with three true freshmen in our top five is promising for the future," Watson said.
Iowa State senior Edwin Kurgat finished first overall after taking control of the race from eventual fourth-place finisher Peter Seufer, a senior from Virginia Tech. Brigham Young University took home the top team score, dethroning three-time defending national champion Northern Arizona University, who finished second.
In the women’s 6k, senior Destiny Collins finished 129th overall as the Horns’ top runner. The women were able to run together for most of the race. However, the team finished 30th out of 31 teams.
“We definitely had higher aspirations, and it is a disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding season,” Texas women’s distance coach PattiSue Plumer said.
Two of the favorites in the women’s field, junior Weini Kelati of New Mexico and senior Alicia Monson of Wisconsin, finished first and second respectively. Kelati was able to separate from the field just past the midway point and maintain her lead over Monson down the stretch. Arkansas had runners finish third and fourth overall to win the team competition, narrowly edging out BYU by six points.
By finishing 25th, the Texas men’s team posted their best finish since 2013. The women placed 30th — the best since 2012.
Texas won’t even have time to celebrate as its focus immediately switches to track season.