Baez wins Naimadu Classic, Texans finish among top half on both sides

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ABILENE – Kevin Baez wasted no time adding to his myriad of accomplishments while donning the purple and white on Friday evening in Abilene for Tarleton’s season opener.

The senior took first place in the men’s 6k at the Naimadu Classic with a time of 18:31.5. He finished ahead of runners from Texas Tech, TCU, ACU and West Texas A&M among others. The win is the third of the senior’s career.

“Kevin winning was really big,” said head coach Chase Rathke. “The cool thing about it was that he was nowhere near the lead until there was not long to go in the race. He was buying his time and with about one loop to go he started to make his move and ran a guy down to take first. I’m really excited for him and where he is headed this season.”

Overall the men finished fourth behind West Texas A&M, Texas Tech and ACU, The women ran a 4k and finished fifth behind TCU, West Texas A&M, ACU and Texas Tech.

Newcomer Angel Contreras finished 11th with a time of 18:54.6. He hung with Baez for the first half and ultimately finished strong as he had been dealing with an injury in the weeks leading up to the opener.

Freshman Jerryth Buckingham came in at 18th with a time of 19:19.1 “Jerryth stepping up in his first collegiate meet was awesome to see and he is only going to get better,” said Rathke.

Angel Gomez came in 30th (19:57.7), Riley McClure finished 35th (20:08.6), Dominick Vastlik came in 41st (20:20.4) and Ricky Tolentino placed 60th (21:15.7).

On the women’s side, freshman Morgan Lamberson was the Texans top finisher in 20th place with a time of 15:24.5.

“It was a good meet overall for the women,” said Rathke. “We had some young runners step up, and obviously Lamberson performed extremely well leading the way for us in her first meet. Kaleigh Ellis ran a really good race and there was a pack of 3-5 behind her but we need to work on closing that gap and get closer to the top.”

Ellis came in 34th (16:32.5), Kailey Sykora finished right behind her in 38th (16:45.6), followed by Sage Lancaster in 41st (16:55.6), Georgina Balderas came in 46th (17:01.5) and Aimee Landers-Wilburn finished 48th (17:07.7).

“I’m really proud of this group,” said Rathke. “We did sit two of our top seven women for a few different reasons, so once we get them out there we’ll be in a good spot.”

Tarleton will race next weekend on Sept. 10 in Grand Prairie at the UTA Invitational. It will be held at Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake at 7:30 a.m.

“We’re excited about UTA next weekend,” said Rathke. “We will have some runners that didn’t get to compete at ACU run and I am excited for them to get to showcase the work that they have put in.”

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