I won't often post about our cross country squad. They compete quite well, but it just really isn't much of a talking sport. There aren't questionable coaching maneuvers, depth issues, starting vs. bench players or other similar situations a listener to talk radio would hear. While the team can work together, similar to bicycle rallies like the Tour de France, that is generally info privy to the team and coaches. And since I mentioned I won't just report results, it will leave them off this blog more often than most other team sports.
Today is the exception as the first meet of the year can give you a lot of info you may not have had before. While the courses change, results don't differ terribly much during the season. Sometimes some runners will run and while others will sit as the coach tries to determine who the best runners are or get some runners so merace time. Sometimes there are injuries that change the lineup of a team. But, the first of the season can provide a preview of the rest of the year.
I will say it a lot in future posts, but this will be the first time. In team sports, the transitive property can never be used to determine results. UTA beat Utah State in basketball last year. Utah State beat New Mexico State. Therefore UTA should have won the WAC tournament title when they faced NMSU. We lost.
In cross country, that applies more often.
The preseason Sun Belt poll predicted a high finish for both UTA squads. On the men's side, the order was UTA, Arkansas-Little Rock, South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State, Texas State and Troy. For the women Arkansas State was picked first followed by Georgia State, UTA, Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Arkansas-Little Rock, Texas State, Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.
At the Gerald Richey Invitational, run at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie, the men finished third while the women were second. There were a couple of other Sun Belt teams for both sides.
For the men, they finished behind Arkansas-Little Rock and Louisiana-Monroe, but did finish ahead of a North Texas team that didn't have enough runners finish to qualify for fourth.
In the women's race, UTA finished behind SMU. Arkansas-Little Rock was fourth and Louisiana-Monroe was sixth. UTA also finished ahead of Baylor (3rd) and UNT (5th).
The showing dropped the men from ninth to 13th out of 15 teams in the South Central Regional Rankings, behind both UALR (9) and ULM (12). The Warhawks were not in the rankings last week.
The women's finish vaulted them into the regional rankings as they now occupy the 8th spot in the South Central. Texas State in the only other Sun Belt school in the regional at 14th. No other Sun Belt schools appear in the other regional rankings.
The rankings can be found here.
In short, the women impressed and are above the expectations they started with. The men will need to improve to make the preseason prognosticators correct.