The Texas men and women’s cross country teams clinched berths in the NCAA championships with a pair of second-place finishes at the NCAA South Central Regional Championship on Friday morning.
Two second-place finishes ensure automatic qualification for both teams to compete at the NCAA championships on Nov. 21 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Texas competed at the Dale Watts Cross Country Course in College Station for the second time this season. The Longhorns swept the Texas A&M Invitational on Sept. 26.
Arkansas swept the competition at the regional championship, winning convincingly in the women’s race. The Razorbacks bested the Longhorns by 65 points, 40-105.
The Texas women qualified for the NCAA championship for the first time since 2012, despite not having a runner place in the top 15.
A trio of Longhorns finished the 6,000-meter race in positions 16, 17 and 18. Junior Mary Beth Hamilton led the group with a time of 20:26.2.
Hamilton said her focus heading into the race was to run as a pack and place as many runners in the top 25 as possible.
“The season brought us a few curveballs and bumps along the way, but ultimately we pulled through,” Hamilton said. “We are so excited to represent Texas at the national level next weekend.”
The men’s race stayed tight until the end. Texas redshirt freshman Jacob Pickle remained in first place at the 7,700-meter split. The Longhorn men held a two-point lead over Arkansas at that point.
Pickle completed the 10,000-meter race in fifth. He finished in a time of 30:13.1, less than 6 seconds after the race winner, Houston junior Brian Barraza.
Senior Brady Turnbull finished seventh and recorded a top-10 finish for the second week in succession.
Arkansas finished with three runners in the top six en route to an 18-point victory over the Longhorns. Texas managed to hold off the host team Texas A&M by 16 points.
The Texas men will compete at nationals for the seventh year in a row, but Pickle isn’t taking that for granted.
“Nationals is a great time to step up and perform at the highest level,” Pickle said. “These opportunities don’t come often, so we are excited to compete.”