CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's cross country team returns five of its top seven runners from a year ago, while the women's squad looks use a bevy of newcomers to deepen its pack as both Islanders squads prepare for the start of the 2016 campaign.
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The Islanders will start things off this Friday, Sept. 2 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As part of the South Texas Showdown, presented by NavyArmy Community Credit Union, the team that finishes first at the meet will earn points towards their department's total in the rivalry series.
The men return their three top performers from the 2015 Southland Conference Championship in Vinnie Van Puyvelde, Fabian Lutz and Cesar Gonzalez. Van Puyvelde's 18th place finish led the Blue and Green to fifth overall at the league meet.
"I'm really excited for this season," Van Puyvelde said. "Last year we already had a good team this year we may have an even better team. We know our strengths and our weaknesses and we can work to [overcome] those weaknesses."
The women, meanwhile, bring in seven newcomers to the fold for 2016. The Islanders finished seventh at the Southland Championship a year ago and will have to overcome the departure of top performer Regina Salinas.
The Blue and Green's top returners from last year's championship meets are Liz Romo and Carissa Piñón, who were both in the top 50 at the league meet in 2015. Cynthia Quiroga will also add strength to the front of the lineup following a productive spring on the track.
"We have seven new freshmen," Quiroga said. "We're excited to encourage them to become a part of our big team. I think we're going to have a solid base this year."
Following the first meet of the season at UTRGV, the Islanders will compete at Rice on Sept. 9 before returning home to host the Islanders Splash at the Dugan Family Soccer and Track Stadium on Sept. 16.
For the latest information on Islanders Cross Country and Track & Field, follow the teams on Twitter and Instagram (@IslandersTFXC) and Facebook (/TAMUCCTFXC).