After a promising tune up meet at the Bear Relays in Waco last Friday, the Mean Green returns to Denton to host the Mean Green Opener at the Eagle Point Campus this Saturday. Both the Men and Women expect to contend well at their home opener.
With two returning all-conference runners and a host of young talent, the Mean Green Men look to improve on their third place finish in last year’s conference championships.
Mean Green leader Josh Rogers returns for his sophomore season. Rogers had four top 10 finishes in his inaugural year, including a ninth place finish in the Sun Belt Conference Championship and a second place finish in the Texas A&M Commerce Invitational.
North Texas also returns senior Matt Gieringer, who notched a 10th place finish at the conference championships. Gieringer also represented the Mean Green at the NCAA Regional Meet and finished fifth at the UTA Challenge.
Other key returnees include senior Justin Kaufman and sophomore Logan Newell. Kaufman finished 15th at the SBC Championships and competed at regionals. Newell returns from a stellar freshman year where he didn’t finish outside the top 40 in all five races he competed in.
Joining North Texas this season are freshman Sean Covington, Derek Ray, Sean Harriman and Jose Zubia and transfer student Frank Ngeno. All should play heavily in future plans for the Mean Green.
“We have some experience coming back, but I’m excited about a lot of our newcomers as well,” said head coach Rick Watkins. “I think as the season goes on and we continue to improve, I think we will have a chance to compete for the conference crown.”
Even with a host of injuries to key runners, the Mean Green Women’s Cross Country team had its highest finish in its Sun Belt history last season, taking second.
This year, North Texas returns to full strength behind All-Conference sophomore Bonnie McKernan and leaders Jessica Schmidt and Dagmar Salazar.
McKernan capped off an impressive season with a fourth place finish in the Sun Belt Championships. She also had three other top five finishes, including a third place in the UALR Open.
Schmidt’s championship potential was cut short by a foot injury in the middle of the season. Schmidt reeled off two straight victories at the UALR Open and the Texas A&M Commerce Invitational before being sidelined. Schmidt was selected runner of the week for Oct. 15, and posted the Sun Belt’s fasted time of the year in the 5K and the third fastest in the 6K.
Salazar narrowly missed All-Conference honors, finishing 11th at the conference meet. She also turned in the Sun Belt’s fourth fastest time in the 6K and the sixth fastest in the 5K. The senior posted three top 10 finishes, including a second place at the UALR Open.
North Texas’ other top runners include sophomores Jill Brennan, Cassie Storms and Jordan Skelton.
“We have a lot of talent coming back, and that should give us a chance to really compete for the conference championship if we can stay healthy,” said head coach Rick Watkins.
Mean Green Opener Information
The course is located at the corner of I-35 and Bonnie Brae Street (take the Bonnie Brae exit from I-35) or park in the Radisson Hotel parking lot. The start area is on the north end of the course (by Bonnie Brae). The men's race begins at 9 a.m. followed by the women's at 9:40 a.m. The meet will have teams from SMU, Baylor, TCU, UTA and North Texas.