CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi cross country teams will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the 23rd Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday. The men's 10k race will begin at 9:45 a.m. and the women's 6k will follow at 10:30 a.m. at the University of Arkansas' cross country course at Agri Park.
"Last year the women were sixth and the men finished 13th out of 50 in the meet," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. "We hope to improve on those performances. We also get to race conference rival UTSA so we're excited to see how that goes."
Live Results: Results will be available here.
In the Running: The Islanders, along with approximately 35 to 40 other teams, are set to compete in the collegiate races. Both squads will compete against Southland foes UTSA and UT Arlington.
Here's a look at how some of the teams that will be competing match-up in the South Central regional rankings:
1. Arkansas 1. Arkansas
6. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 2. Texas
7. UTSA 4. SMU
9. Ark.-Little Rock 5. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
11. Baylor 6. Baylor
13. LSU 9. UTSA
14. UTPA 10. TCU
11. UT Arlington
2010 Chile Pepper Festival: Last season, the women's team finished just outside the top five, in sixth place in the 5k, while the men's team recorded a 13th-place finish in the 10k. On the women's side, Sarah Kimaiyo led the squad with a 30th-place finish, Julia Sambu finished in 44th place and BreAnna Briggs placed 97th. Kristine Burciaga, Danielle Higgins and Cecilia Gonzalez also competed for the Islanders. On the men's side, Patrick Kimeli and Justin Adame competed and helped the team to a 13th-place finish. Kimeli led the squad in 26th place while Adame finished in 153rd place.
Women's 6k: After taking third place two weeks ago at the Grass Routes Grand Prix in Austin, behind Texas and Texas Tech, and a week of training, the Islanders will look to improve their sixth-place finish from a year ago. The women's squad has faced UTPA, Texas and UT Arlington at least once this season. They will also face conference foe UTSA, who the Islanders sit four spots in front of in the South Central Regional rankings.
"What we are looking for on the women's side is how many teams from other regions can we beat," Flanagan said. "There's Southern Utah, Utah, Utah State, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Texas. We will see where we are going to fit in. Last year we were sixth, if we can be that high again then we have a good shot to score some points that will help us get to the national meet."
Burciaga, Sambu, Higgins, Briggs, Gonzalez and Melissa Jones are slated to compete.
Men's 10k: The men's team finished fourth two weeks ago at the Grass Routes Grand Prix in Austin, behind Lamar, Rice and Texas. This week the Islanders will look to improve their 13th-place finish from a year ago. The team has faced UTPA, Texas and UT Arlington at least once this season and will face conference foe UTSA for the first time. The Islanders sit one slot in front of UTSA in the South Central Regional rankings.
"We have to see how close up we can get," Flanagan said. "Can we run with Utah, Southern Utah and Iowa and can we stay ahead of UTSA, TCU, Baylor and these other teams that are in our region? It's going to be challenging and interesting. I'm looking forward to it."
Kimeli, along with Adame, will be returning to compete at the meet for the Islanders. Joining them will be freshmen Angel Banda, Paul Hansel, Philipp Baar, Christoph Hintz, Valentinas Rudys and sophomore Jason Garcia.
Concordia University Invite: The Islanders will send seven runners to Cedar Park, Texas, to compete in the 2nd Annual Concordia University Invitational on Oct. 15 at Cedar Park High School. The women's 5k will begin at 8 a.m. followed by the men's 5k at 8:45 a.m. For the women, junior Shelby Nichols, sophomore Julia Wohlschlegel along with freshmen Jasmine Boutte and Jennifer Ramirez will be competing. On the men's side, senior Jeremy Juarez, junior Jacob Abrego and freshman Brandon Lacy are slated to take part.
Islanders in the Rankings: In the latest USTFCCCA South Central regional rankings the Islanders women's team moved up two spots. The women's team currently holds the No. 5 slot and remained in the top spot in the Southland. The men's team maintained its spot in sixth place and second in the Southland, behind Lamar, who sits in the No. 4 slot.
Spotlight Runners: The Islanders have been honored by the Southland three out of the five weeks they have competed. Burciaga, Kimeli and Gonzalez have all earned Southland Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors.
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 have faced a challenging schedule. After the Chile Pepper Festival, the Islanders will head back on the road for their final three meets, which will feature the Islanders at the Southland Conference Championships, the NCAA Regional and the NCAA Nationals.
Up Next: The Islanders will travel to Nacogdoches, Texas to compete in the Southland Conference Championships on Mon., Oct. 31, at 9:30 a.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).