CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi cross country team will host its only home meet of the season this weekend at the 12th annual Islander Splash at West Guth Park. The college race will begin Friday night with the women's 5k at 6:20 p.m. and the men's 8k will follow at 6:45 p.m. The Islanders will also be hosting high school and junior high races on Saturday as part of the Splash starting at 8:20 a.m.
"We've got the largest team we have ever had on both the men's and the women's sides, so I'm trying a little experiment," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. "The kids that have been running a little bit down the totem pole and have been finishing sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth, I'm pulling out the top five. I'm giving them the opportunity to say, 'the chance for glory is on our back,' so if we are going to win we are going to need those people to come through."
Live Results: Results for both the college race and the middle school/high school races can be found at: http://flashresults.com/flashtexas/2011/IslanderSplash11/ and after the races at www.goislanders.com.
Meet Info: All Islander Splash info can be found at: http://www.flashresults.com/flashtexas/?SPSID=60120&SPID=6601&DB_OEM_ID=14100
In the Running: The Islanders will compete against a total of eight teams. Both teams will race against Division II foes Angelo State and Texas A&M – Kingsville from the Lone Star Conference along with Texas-Pan American from the Great West. The women will also compete against St. Mary's from the WCC and Texas Southern from the SWAC. Rounding out the field for the women is Rice University, who is ranked one spot ahead of the Islanders in the South Central Regional Rankings at No. 6. Last weekend at the Rice Invitational, the Islanders finished second to Rice by four points. Others in the field for the men are Prairie View A&M from the SWAC and Division II Concordia University from the American Southwest Conference.
Defending the Crown: Last season, both teams swept the Islander Splash and Patrick Kimeli finished as the top individual runner in the men's 8k race with a time of 25:26. Julia Sambu finished as the top Islanders runner in second place in the women's 5k with a time of 17:48.
Women's 5k: After taking second place last weekend at the Rice Invite, four points behind Rice, the Islanders will look for the underclassmen to step up to help them defend the crown. The Islanders will see some fresh faces on the course.
"On the women's side, we have four seniors that are going to be gone next year, so next year this group of girls that will be running are going to be who we are counting on," Flanagan said. "We will get a little idea what they look like having more pressure without the seniors carrying them."
Freshmen Jasmine Boutte, Vanessa Galindo, Shelby Polasek and Jennifer Ramirez along with sophomores Cecy Gonzalez and Julia Wohlschlagel are slated to run for the Islanders. Juniors BreAnna Briggs, Melissa Jones and Shelby Nichols will also compete. Last year at the Splash, Briggs crossed the line in seventh place with a time of 18:23, Gonzalez finished in 14th place with a time of 18:56, Jones placed 16th with a time of 19:02 and Nichols finished 28th with a time of 19:51. At the Rice Invite, the freshmen hung tough with the upperclassmen. Polasek finished 27th, Galindo crossed the line in 31st place and Boutte rounded out the field for the Islanders with a time of 15:38.
Men's 8k: The men also finished in the runner-up spot at the Rice Invite and will also turn to the freshmen and sophomores to defend their title.
"On the guy's side, we don't really lose much next year, but same deal, we are giving them a chance without Patrick (Kimeli), Jeremy (Juarez) and Jason (Garcia) and some of the other upperclassmen," Flanagan said. "The underclassmen have a chance to see if they can shine getting out of everybody else's shadows."
Freshmen Phillipp Baar, Angel Banda, Paul Hansel, Christoph Hintz and Brandon Lacy are expected to run for the Islanders along with sophomore Justin Adame. Last year at the Splash, Adame finished 11th with a time of 27:02. At the Rice Invite, Banda was the second Islander to cross the line behind Kimeli, finishing 14th with a time of 17:22. Adame finished 17th and Hintz was the next freshman to finish in 41st place, followed by Lacy and Baar, who recorded 45th and 49th places, respectively.
Middle School/High School Race: On Saturday, the high schools and middle schools from around the area will compete. There are a total of 951 girls and 948 boys competing in the high school and middle school races.
"The middle school race is a huge race," Flanagan said. "We usually get about 300 people or so in each race. We get some of the large school varsity teams and a lot of the state ranked teams will be competing head-to-head."
Middle School/High School Schedule:
8:20 a.m. 7th Grade Girls-1.4 miles
8:35 a.m. 7th Grade Boys-1.4 miles
8:50 a.m. 8th Grade Girls-1.4 miles
9:05 a.m. 8th Grade Boys-1.4 miles
9:20 a.m. 9th Grade Girls & Boys-2 miles
9:40 a.m. 4 & 5A Varsity Girls-2miles
10:00 a.m. 4 & 5A Varsity Boys-3 miles
10:30 a.m. JV-All Divisions-Girls-2 miles
10:50 a.m. JV-All Divisions-Boys-3 miles
11:20 a.m. 1, 2 & 3A Girls-2 miles
11:40 a.m. 1, 2 & 3A Boys-3 miles
Awards: The top three teams in the varsity and junior varsity divisions and the top 10 individuals in all divisions will receive awards.
T-shirts: There will be Islander Splash t-shirts available at the meet for $10.
Leader of the Pack: This week, Kimeli was named the SLC Male Cross Country Athlete of the Week for his performance at the Rice Invite. The junior finished as the top individual runner in the men's race against nine other schools. It was Kimeli's second SLC weekly honor in his career.
Stepping Up: Senior Danielle Higgins received honorable mention accolades this week from the SLC for her fourth-place finish at the Rice Invite. Higgins led the Islanders in her first 4k of her collegiate career with a personal best of 14:18 while helping the women's team to a runner-up finish.
Islanders in the Rankings: In the latest USTFCCCA South Central regional rankings the Islanders women's team maintained its spot at No. 7 regionally and is sitting in the top spot in the Southland Conference after a strong second-place finish at the Rice Invite. The men's team moved up four spots in the South Central poll after finishing in the runner-up spot in front of three higher ranked teams at the Rice Invite. The men currently sit behind No. 4 Lamar and No. 5 UTSA in the Southland and are ahead of Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State.
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 Islander Splash, the Islanders will 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: The Islanders will travel to Austin, Texas to compete in the University of Texas Rogue Runners Invite on Fri., Sept. 30, at 7:30 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).