While area races have been canceled or postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, thankfully collegiate sports have largely been able to find a relatively safe path forward. Among those is cross country, and competing in a shortened season against some of the best runners in the country, The University of Texas’s women’s and men’s teams made the most of that opportunity, claiming second and third respectively at the Big 12 cross country championships.
The event, ending a pandemic-shortened fall season, was held on October 30 in Lawrence, Kansas. The women’s team also finished second last year, while the men’s team, extended their top-three streak in the Big 12 to six years.
Coached by former middle distance great PattiSue Plumer, Beth Ramos, a sophomore, led the women’s team posting a 21:11.5 on the 6K course, for sixth place overall. Fellow sophomore Ava Peeples and senior Claudine Blancaflor crossed the finish together in 21:28 for 12th and 13th places. Iowa State won the championship with 39 points to UT’s 62 points. West Virginia was third with 66 points.
In the men’s race, Longhorn sophomore Haftu Knight, ran a sizzling 4:43 per mile pace to cover the 8K (five miles) course in 23:27, taking fourth place overall. Freshman Graydon Morris (24:06) was next in 17th place.
Sophomore Crayton Carrozza (24:09) finished third for the Longhorns in 18th place, cinching the Longhorn’s third place finish. Coached by Pete Watson, the Longhorn men scored 84 points behind Oklahoma State and Iowa State’s tied 31 points, with Oklahoma State named conference champions.
“I was pleased to see how well Texas did with such a young group of guys,” said Ready to Run store manager Rory Tunningley, a former UT cross-country team captain. “To have no seniors in their top 7 tells me Texas is going to have a really good team for the next couple of years.
Carrozza, a former St. Stephens standout who clocked 3:59 for the mile as a UT freshman (making him the fifth-fastest indoor miler in school history and only the sixth Longhorn to ever break the four-minute mark indoors), continues to improve on the young Longhorn team. His time last week chipped away at his earlier 8K personal best of 24:23. It’s worth noting that Carrozza’s parents Paul and Shiela are former RunTex owners who were track stars at Abilene Christian. Paul currently heads up the Born to Run training program, and notes that, “We have three Born to Run kids in Texas’s top seven right now.”
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