Cross Country Set to Compete at Southland Conference Championships

CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi cross country teams will travel to Nacogdoches, Texas to compete at the Southland Conference Championships, hosted by Stephen F. Austin. The women's 6k race will begin at 9 a.m. and the men's 8k will follow at 9:45 a.m. at Piney Woods Country Club. The women's team is looking to garner the top spot after finishing in the runner-up spot last season to SFA, while the men are looking to improve upon their fifth-place finish last season. 

"We're very excited about the upcoming SLC meet," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. "It's something we have been looking forward to since last year. Other than Patrick Kimeli's victory, we thought we could do better. This gives us a chance to improve." 

Live Results: Results will be available here 

In the Running: The Islanders will face all 12 of their conference foes in both the men's and women's races.  

Here's a look at the Southland teams ranked in the South Central regional rankings:

Men:                                                            

4. Lamar                                           

5. UTSA                                            

9. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi             

10. Stephen F. Austin                          

11. McNeese State                        

Women:

5. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi

8. Lamar

9. UTSA

13. Stephen F. Austin

14. McNeese State

15. Nicholls State

Southland Titles: Last season, the women's team fell short of being the only team in SLC history to clinch four consecutive conference titles, finishing in second to SFA. Prior to that, the team won in 2007 on their home course at West Guth Park, in 2008 at SFA and again in 2009 at West Guth Park.  

2010 Southland Conference Championships: Lamar hosted last season's conference championships. The women's team returns five runners from the 2010 team that finished second. Julia Sambu led the way in fourth place, Sarah Kimaiyo in 12th place, Kristine Buricaga in 16th place, BreAnna Briggs in 29th and Danielle Higgins finished in 31st.  In 2009, Briggs finished in 10th place with a time of 21:40 and Burciaga finished 49th in 2008 with a time of 25:01. On the men's side, defending champion and 2010 male athlete of the year, Patrick Kimeli returns to the course along with Justin Adame, who finished in 34th place and Jason Garcia who finished in 41st place, as they try and improve upon their fifth-place finish.  

Defending Champion: Kimeli finished as the top individual in the men's 8k race with a time of 24:47.0, edging Lamar's Bob Ahimbisibwe, who also returns to the course. In 2009, Kimeli finished in 15th place with a time of 25:03.  

Against the Pack: The Islanders have faced several teams from the SLC this season. Both teams have faced UT Arlington twice, once at the Chile Pepper Festival and once at the Grass Routes Grand Prix. Both squads have also faced Lamar twice, once at the Grass Routes Grand Prix and once at the Rice Invite. At the Chile Pepper Festival, both teams faced UTSA and at the Rice Invite both teams battled McNeese State and SFA. 

Women's 6k: Sambu, Burciaga, Higgins, Kimaiyo, Briggs, Cecy Gonzalez, Melissa Jones and Shelby Polasek are slated to compete in the 6k.  

"The women are fired up," Flanagan said. "We are hoping to improve upon our second-place finish last year. We're going to do everything we can to get back in the winner's circle." 

Men's 8k: Kimeli, along with Adame and Garcia are slated to compete along with Angel Banda, Philipp Baar, Christoph Hintz, Valentinas Rudys and Jeremy Juarez.   

"The men are looking to improve upon their fifth-place finish from the year before," Flanagan said. "Patrick is looking forward to defending his conference title he won last year."  

Islanders in the Rankings: In the latest USTFCCCA South Central regional rankings the Islanders women's team maintained their No. 5 spot and remained in the top slot in the Southland. The men's team sits in ninth place and third in the Southland, behind Lamar and UTSA, who sits in the No. 4 and No. 5 slots.   

Spotlight Runners: Burciaga, Kimeli and Gonzalez have all earned Southland Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors this season. 

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. 

2011 Season: This season the Islanders have performed well at their six meets. At the UTPA Bronc Relays, both the men and the women took the top spots. At the Rice Invite, both teams finished in second in the women's 4k and the men's 5k, while Kimeli took home the top spot. At the Islanders Splash, the women finished second in the 5k behind Rice, while the men took the top spot in the 8k. Gonzalez and Banda each finished in second for the women's and men's teams. In Austin at the Grass Routes Grand Prix, the women's team finished third in the 6k, while the men finished fourth in the 8k. Kimeli finished in second behind Lamar's Matt Johnsen. Two weekends ago, the women's squad finished 11th in the 6k and the men's team finished 12th in the 10k at the Chile Pepper Festival.  

Up Next: The Islanders will travel to Waco, Texas to compete in the NCAA Regional on Sat., Nov. 12, at 10 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).