Cross Country Hosts Ken Garland Invitational
Former Mean Green Track Athlete Victor Rodriguez Will Serve As Race Starter
DENTON – The North Texas men’s and women’s cross country teams will host the Ken Garland Invitational Saturday, Sept. 17 starting at 8 a.m. at the Eagle Point Cross Country Course.
The women’s 5k race will begin at 8:10 a.m. followed by the men’s 4 mile race named for former North Texas track standout Dr. Victor Rodriguez. The Mean Green will be competing with eight schools including, TCU, Baylor Oklahoma, UT Arlington, Abilene Christian, Letourneau University, Texas Wesleyan and Wiley College.
“It is an important meet to come out and perform for family and fans,” cross country coach Stefanie Slekis said. “A lot of the student-athletes will have their parents here to watch so it is a race we look forward to every year. We have had a great tradition for the men’s team winning the home meet but this year the women’s team has a chance to win the title for the first time.”
Also for the third-straight year, North Texas will be hosting a community 5k race starting at noon. Prizes are awarded to the top three male and female finishers. The top male and female master’s finishers (40 and older) will each receive a prize package. Two random finishers will be selected to receive prize packages.
The men’s team has won three-straight Ken Garland Invites dating back to a second place finish in 2012. Senior James Coleman, juniors Mike Lowe and Zach Kirkland hope to make it four in a row this weekend. The Oklahoma men’s team is ranked No. 19 in the nation and UT Arlington is fourth in the South Central region on the men’s side.
The women’s team is looking to bring home its first ever Ken Garland invitational after finishing third the last two seasons. Sophomore Susannah Lynch had a 10th place finish at the Baylor meet with upperclassmen Christina Moralez, Susie Kemper and Shauna Pali hoping to run fast at the home meet. Four top-15 regional teams will be competing on the women’s side in Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and UT Arlington.
“This is the last meet before taking part in the competitive Chile Pepper Classis hosted by Arkansas on Oct. 1,” added Slekis. “We are going to be more aggressive with our meet plan after seeing we are lot more fit than what we ran at Baylor. Looking forward to seeing how we perform at our home course.”
A special guest will be on hand as the official starter for the collegiate races in former North Texas track student-athlete Dr. Victor Rodriguez. Rodriguez was the first Hispanic scholarship athlete and the first Hispanic letterman in North Texas history. He participated in the prestigious Drake Relays and the two-mile relay at Kansas, where his team took first place in both.
Rodríguez earned a BA in Art Education in 1955, and returned to North Texas State College to earn an MA in Education in 1962. After completing his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Dr. Rodríguez became the first Mexican-American school superintendent in San Antonio, where he was honored with numerous awards during his tenure.
His autobiography The Bell Ringer was published in 2005, preserving his life story and defining moments for future generations. He was inducted into the North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.