Oct. 17, 2015
LOUISVILLE, KY - With the Conference USA Championships just two weeks away, the Rice Owls women's cross country team competed and prepared with some of the nation's best at Saturday's Pre-Nationals hosted by Louisville.
"This was a very tough Pre-Nationals on a tight course," Rice women's cross country head coach Jim Bevan said. "More high-level teams ran here this year than when nationals was at Indiana State because it hasn't been here in a while. We are much-improved over three weeks ago (Texas A&M Invite) as we beat Texas and SFA, who had beaten us there, and came within five points of Missouri."
Seven Owls competed in the 311-runner field and were led by junior Cali Roper's 22nd place finish. The junior native of Willis, Texas ran the second-fastest 6000m race of her career with a mark of 20:29.2. and moved up 20 spots after the halfway mark. Other competitors for the Owls were Elsa Racasan (21:11.9), Katie Jensen (21:17.4), Hannah Kay (22:07.1), Ellen Diemert (22:25.1), Fabiola Andujar-Perez (22:38.1) and Kristin Sweeney (22:54.7).
"Cali got pinched back early and had to pass people and it can be difficult to do on this course but she ended up with the second-fastest time (20:29) of her life," Bevan said. "Elsa, who had been nursing a ding, and Katie raced well and Katie is really improving with her second-fastest time of her life as well. Hannah battled some food poisoning from earlier in the week and gritted it out and Ellen ran her fastest 6k. Overall we gained experience with tough competition. We are improving and we will add a couple of runners to the race roster at conference. We've got two big weeks to get ready, stay healthy and train smart."
As a team Rice placed 34th (772 points) out of 45 teams in the Red Group (A section), but finished ahead of Stephen F. Austin and Texas, each of which are ranked higher than the Owls in the USTFCCCA South Central Regional Rankings.
The C-USA Championships will be held Oct. 31 in Bowling Green, KY with WKU hosting.