Pitzel's Picks: No. 9 Ranked A&M Consolidated

A&M Consolidated poses for a photo before the start of the McNeil Gold girls race

Amy Pitzel coached track and field and cross country for 16 years and her most recent stint was at Katy Tompkins in Katy ISD. She led the Tompkins girls to three consecutive UIL 6A state meet team qualifications in 2017, 2018, and 2019 with a 2017 Region 3-6A team championship and runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019.

Pitzel was named Gulf Coast Scholastic Track and Field Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2017.This season, she will pick Texas high school coaches and athletes throughout the season to discuss a variety of topics.

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The College Station A&M Consolidated girls are a UIL 5A team and they have shown this season that they are ready to compete at the highest levels. This year's team is doing it with four freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.

The program is led a coach in his first season there, Coach Anthony Branch. Year one at Consolidated after eight at Sealy and a total of 26 years of coaching, they have intentionally entered in tough meets to get the team ready for the championship season.

This team is young but fearless and they are following a tradition of great Cross Country programs with three State Championships and 20 State Meet appearances. Coach Branch brought in the motto, "Bring it back," this season and the girls are buying into this mentality.

So far, they have finished third in the Elite division of The Woodlands Friday Night Lights, fifth at San Antonio Patriots Meet, third at Brenham Hillacious, fourth at the Texas A&M Invitational, and recently earned a spot in the Gold race at the Hoka McNeil Invitational.

The "Bring it back" slogan is effectively at work. The team has been ranked in the last two polls and in the most recent Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas (CCCAT) poll Consolidated sits at the No. 9 position in 5A and they're looking to make some more waves as they enter the championship season.

I sat down to talk with the seven varsity girls from A&M Consolidate. The four freshmen are Rowen Skinner, Rebecca Moran, Alexandra Staack and Hayden Helms. The team is rounded about by sophomores, Elizabeth Gregory and Rachel Moran, along with junior Madison Black.

Coach Branch describes his team as "tough girls" and said that the key to coaching females is maintaining just as high of expectations as with their male counterparts while still having empathy for them. The focus in training has been to build their aerobic engines while also building relationships. This team is united in the goal to win the district and the region and are excited to see what they do in the next four years as this young team grows under their new coach.