August 31, 2011

Islanders Cross Country Opens Season at Bronc Buster Invite

CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi cross country team will open the 2011 season on the road Friday at 7 p.m. at the Bronc Buster Invitational. The event is hosted by the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, at Monte Cristo Golf Course.

"As we have a large number of freshmen this year, the relay format of two-person teams are a good opener as it will get the men and women coming from high school more used to the longer collegiate distances," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. 

Dual Match Action: The Islanders will compete against the Broncs in a two-runner relay format. Each of the women will run two sets of two miles each for a total of eight miles while the men will run three sets of two miles for a total of 12 miles.

Third Time's a Charm: After this weekend, the Islanders will meet up against the Broncs two more times this season, on Sept. 23 at the Islander Splash and Oct. 14 the Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark. 

2010 Bronc Buster: Last season the Bronc Buster was shortened to four laps due to rain that made the course too slippery to run the eight scheduled laps.  The men's and women's teams both performed well despite the conditions.

The Islanders men's side clinched three of the top five spots. Junior Patrick Kimeli will look to defend his first-place finish while returners Jacob Abrego, Brandon Steed and Adrian Marquez will look to better their third-place and fourth-place finishes.

"It is early to say exactly who will do well, but I expect teams of Patrick Kimeli,  Angel Banda, Buster Hansel, Brandon Lacy, Jason Garcia and Justin Adame to do well on the men's side."

Last season the women took four out of the five slots with BreAnna Briggs and Julia Sambu teaming up to secure the top spot.

"I expect teams of Kristine Burciaga, Danielle Higgins, Julia Sambu, Cecilia Gonzalez, Shelby Nichols and Sarah Kimaiyo to do well on the women's side," Flanagan said.

In the Running: Kimeli returns to the course after being named the Southland Male Athlete of the Year and earning the individual crown at the Southland championships. Joining Kimeli are sophomores Jason Garcia and Justin Adame and freshmen Angel Banda, Paul Hansel and Brandon Lacy.  On the women's side, the Islanders will depend on experience from four seniors: Julia Sambu, Kristine Burciaga, Danielle Higgins and Sarah Kimaiyo. Mixed in with the seniors are junior Shelby Nichols and sophomore Cecilia Gonzalez.

Islanders in the Rankings: In the USTFCCCA South Central region preseason rankings the Islanders women's team opens the season ranked No. 7 regionally and are sitting in the top spot in the Southland Conference. The men's team will kick off the season ranked 10th in the South Central region preseason rankings.

Islanders Head Coach Shawn Flanagan enters his 11th season as the head coach of the Islanders cross country team and 31st season as a Division I coach. Flanagan started the cross country program in 2000. He has won three Southland women's titles, four Independent women's titles and three Independent men's titles.  Altogether, Flanagan holds 29 Conference titles as head coach, including the 19 conference titles he won at UTSA. He also sealed three conference titles as an assistant coach at the University of Texas, totaling 32 Conference Championships to his name.

Last Season: The men finished fifth at the Southland while the women posted a second-place finish. Kimeli advanced to the NCAA championships and finished in the top half.

Challenging Field: This season the Islanders will face a challenging schedule. After the Bronc Buster Invite, the Islanders will compete in the Rice Invite in Houston, Texas, before returning home to host the Islander Splash. The Islanders will then head back on the road for their final two regular season events, the University of Texas Rogue Runners Invite and the annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival. The final three meets will feature the Islanders at the Southland Conference Championships, the NCAA Regional and the NCAA Nationals.

Up Next: Rice Invite, Fri., Sept. 16, in Houston, Texas, at 6:30 p.m.

Keep up with the Islanders: For the latest information, follow Islanders Cross Country on Twitter (@IslandersTFXC) and Facebook (Texas A&M Corpus Christi Track & Field/Cross Country).