COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Senior Brian Barraza booked a trip to the NCAA Cross Country Championships after a runner-up finish at the NCAA South Central Regional, where the Houston Cougar Men’s and Women’s teams were in action on Friday, in College Station, Texas.
Barraza started strong and was among the lead pack as he went through the 2,000-meter split in 5:56. As the lead pack began to make its move, Barraza remained neck-and-neck and was one of six runners to cross the 4,100-meter split in 12:33.
Around the 7,700-meter split, Barraza and Tulane junior Emmanuel Rotich began to separate from the pack and entered the final stretch one-and-two. Barraza (2015) and Rotich (2016) the last two NCAA South Central Regional Champions, entered the chute with just two seconds separating the pair, and the race would stay that close to the finish with Rotich taking the victory at 29:49.1 and Barraza finishing right on his heels in 29:51.5.
With the second-place finish, Barraza booked a spot in the NCAA Cross Country Championships as an individual for the third time in his career. The championship race will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18 in Louisville, Ky.
Junior G.J. Reyna and seniors Chris Wallace and Gabe Lara were the next three Cougars across the line, all finishing within two seconds of each other. Reyna placed 41st in 31:23.9, while Wallace and Lara placed 42nd and 43rd, respectively, with Wallace finishing in 21:25.2 and Lara clocking a 31:25.6. Freshman Devin Fahey rounded out the scoring for the men in 84th at 32:16.6, while senior Matt Parmley placed 120th in 33:01.5.
The Cougar men scored 203 points and finished sixth overall as a team. The final ranking for the Cougars is their highest finish at the regional meet since 2004, when the team placed fourth.
For the third time this season, Jennifer Dunlap led the Houston women’s team across the line. In Friday’s 6,000-meter race, Dunlap was the top Cougar through three of the four splits before crossing the line in 73rd in 21:45.6.
Junior Britani Gonzales entered the chute second for the Cougars in 80th with a time of 21:55.4, while senior Maria Gonzales finished next in 22:07.5 to place 92nd. Senior Emely Morgado finished in 22:42.0 to place 121st and was the fourth Cougar across the line, while Ebony White capped the scoring in 132nd at 22:49.9.
The Cougar women finished 21st overall with 483 points.
Full results from the 2017 NCAA Cross Country South Central Regional can be found by clicking HERE.
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