Texas runners Sam Worley, Connor O'Neill and Alex Rogers cross the finish line together at the Texas Invitational on Sept. 14. (Texas athletics photo)

Texas sports notebook: Canyon graduates reunite as runners chase a Big 12 title

Posted October 5th, 2017

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Texas cross country runner Alex Rogers was asked earlier this week about the off-course habits of freshman teammate Sam Worley.

Without much hesitation, Rogers began to tout Worley’s skills on Xbox. Good luck beating Worley on “Star Wars: Battlefront,” Rogers warns.

“It’s the most aggravating thing because I think that I’m going to be better than him, but I’m not,” Rogers said.

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“That’s the thing you go with?” interjected Worley, who countered with Rogers’ addiction to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a mobile game called “Vainglory.”

UT junior Alex Rogers won the Texas Invitational on Sept. 14. Teammate Sam Worley finished third. (Texas athletics photo).

When they aren’t playing video games or eating Cheetos, you’ll likely find Rogers and Worley running. This fall, Worley finished third at the Texas Invitational that covered six kilometers and was 33rd at Notre Dame’s five-mile race. Rogers won the Texas Invitational and placed 16th at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. (Freshman Connor O’Neill was second in Austin and 13th at Notre Dame).

The solid start has UT feeling confident with the Big 12 meet scheduled for Oct. 28. The Texas men have never won the Big 12.

“We have a lot of talent and a lot of potential,” Rogers said. “I really think we’re going to surprise a lot of people when we head out there in a couple of weeks to the Big 12 course and then to regionals and inevitably nationals.”

The relationship between Rogers and Worley goes back to high school. Both graduated from New Braunfels Canyon, Rogers in 2015 and Worley in 2017. Rogers said Worley had a hot-shot reputation that preceded his Canyon arrival. He recalled thinking “I’m going to see how good he was because I was feeling myself when I was becoming a junior.”

Worley, though, said there was a competitive gap between himself and Rogers when they first met. Rogers was thus asked by Canyon coach Sheila West to take on a mentoring role with Worley. A friendship and training partnership was cemented by track season.

During Rogers’ senior year, the two led Canyon to the 2014 state cross country meet. Rogers was second with a time of 15:27.63. Worley, at 15:56.52, was 12th.

“That year was where I vaulted to the more competitive stages of being competitive with the best in Texas,” Worley said. “That whole season, I became faster and faster and faster and one of the better runners in the state purely just because I was trying to chase down my own teammate in races. That’s really how I got good in the state of Texas, just trying to hang with Alex for as long as possible.”

Worley went onto win a Class 6A championship in 2016. Invited to run against adults at the Texas Relays that spring, Worley nearly ran a four-minute mile to win the Jerry Thompson Mile.

Finishing just behind the Worley? Rogers.

Texas will be hoping for another 1-2 finish from the duo later this month.

Texas goalkeeper Nicole Curry (#23) has posted eight shutouts this season. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Record watch: The Texas soccer team enters this weekend ranked seventh in a United Soccer Coaches poll. The Longhorns (11-0-1, 3-0-1 Big 12) also sit atop the conference standings alongside Oklahoma State (10-1-2, 3-0).

Texas hosts TCU (9-4, 3-1) on Friday, and goalkeeper Nicole Curry will be eyeing history. She has recorded eight shutouts this season. The school record is nine, which was established by Dianna Pfenninger in 2008. Abby Smith matched that mark in 2014.

Curry is a sophomore but did not receive any playing time as a freshman. Senior Taylor Braun entered the year as the only UT goalkeeper with any experience, but the Kentucky transfer suffered a season-ending knee injury this spring.

Curry won the starting job in the off-season and her play has held off freshmen Savannah Madden, a highly-rated signee from San Diego, and Bailey Dobbs.

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