Last week, the cross country teams traveled to Bandera for their District 30A Cross Country Meet. Since Mason just dropped from 2A to 1A, we were one of the new teams in the district. By changing districts, we also changed from Region I to Region IV, so we would be competing against teams that we had not run against in the past four years. Not only were we in unfamiliar territory, but there were teams in our district with strong traditions in running.
District 30A, which is the alignment for cross country, baseball, golf, track & field, and academics, consists of 15 teams. Out of those 15 teams, twelve were represented at the cross country competition. Those teams consisted of Nueces Canyon, Brackett, Center Point, D’Hanis, Junction, La Pryor, Medina, Menard, Rocksprings, Sabinal, Stacey, and Mason. San Antonio Stacey would be the Puncher’s toughest competition while their girls would also press the Cowgirls, along with Brackettville Brackett. Brackett won the district championship last year and represented District 30A at the state meet with their top runner finishing 11th and a 6th place finish for the team. The San Antonio Stacey girls were top competitors at the Region IV meet last year and just missed state by placing 5th at the Regional Meet. The Stacey boys finished 8th at the Region IV meet back in 2007. All three of these, as well as your very own Punchers and Cowgirls, were out to win the district.
The event began with the JV Girls’ division. The Cowgirls had 27 runners competing. The top finisher was Yolanda Gonzales in 6th place. Right behind her was Paige Blair, Ellie Blair, Kady Castillo, Jessica Bibb, and Emily Ellebracht. Six of the Cowgirls finished in the top twelve. It was a great showing for the JV girls and it set the tone for the remainder of the day.
Next in line was the Varsity Girls’ division. Brackett was picked to win the competition with their front runner Kelsey Bruce. They have been ranked in the top ten in the state all season long and have been as high as 3rd. When the gun went off, the Cowgirls went out with a mission, to dethrone the Lady Tigers. Within the first 800m, Mason had taken control. There were six runners in the top fifteen spots and with the heart that the Cowgirls are known to run with, they were sure to hold their spots. At the mile mark, they were still running strong. Lydia Bjork, Brittany Estes, and Hillary Bibb moved up just behind the lead runner to take 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Shayla Estes came across in 8th with teammate Kaitlyn Cavness close behind in 11th. Lauren Keith and Myles Banner were fighting in the middle of the pack in order to make every point count for the Cowgirls. Lydia, Brittany, and Hillary held their positions through the finish. Hillary Bibb posted her personal best time of 13:02, just behind Brittany at 13:00. Kaitlyn finished strong with her person best time of a 13:21 and moved up into 9th place with Shayla Estes finishing less than 100m behind to finish 11th. Our tie breaker runner, Lauren Keith, finished 24th and Myles Banner in 31st. We discussed the days prior that if we had five of our runners in the top fifteen, that would give us a great shot at the District Championship. Not only were they all in the top fifteen, but the top eleven, and three consecutive runners toward the front sealed the deal. The Cowgirls ran away with the District Championship, so much that no one even had to tally the points to know the results because there was so much purple crossing the finish line in front of the pack. The Cowgirls won the meet with a score of 29 points to Brackett’s 42 and Stacey’s 71.
Varsity Boys were after the Varsity Girls and the Punchers were the team to beat. The Punchers really came together as a team this season and have accomplished some amazing things. Besides winning four consecutive meets, they have beaten every 1A team they have competed against this season. That is why they have earned their state ranking of 7th place. On Wednesday it was not a matter of who would win the District team title for the boys, but an event that displayed great runners competing hard against each other for the top spots.
From Mason, Marcelo Segura and Tomas Callejas were sure to be the front runners. Along with them were Enrique Castillo of Center Point and Thomas Medina from La Pryor. Last week, Enrique led Marcelo and Tomas the entire race with Marcelo just beating him within the last 100m. This time around, Marcelo and Tomas took the lead and never looked back. They were all grouped together at the mile mark, but by the time they came back around at the 2-mile mark, Marcelo had put some space between himself and all the other runners. He had a 10 second lead over Tomas, which also had a few meters on the Center Point runner as La Pryor had fallen off. Tomas then pulled away from the Center Point runner around the 2 ½ mile mark. Also moving up at the 2-mile mark were Ramiro Casas, Melesio Segura, Manuel Segura, and Jeremy Duarte. These four runners were able to maintain their mile paces better than they ever had in the past competitions. It enabled them to run up in the top fifteen the entire race and next to teammate Jorge Morales who normally finishes third for the Punchers. The mass of purple jersey’s came in close to each other. The Puncher team posted some outstanding times that are sure to get them noticed. Marcelo was the District Champion running a 16:36, Tomas was 2nd with a 17:10, Ramiro was 5th with an 18:06, Melesio was 6th with an 18:07, Manuel was 11th with an 18:25, Jorge was 13th with an 18:33 and Jeremy 14th with an 18:36. A perfect team score in cross country is 15 points. The Punchers were pretty close to that with a team total of 21 points earning the District Championship by 35 points over San Antonio Stacey.
Competing for the JV Boys’ division were freshmen Zen Steward and Andy Duarte. As the alternates for our varsity team, it was important for them to get in a good competition in case we need to use them in our next meets. The JV division started five minutes after the varsity. Even though Zen and Andy did not have anyone there to challenge them, they did have the opportunity to chase down the varsity runners that were given a head start. That is exactly what they did. Passing a few of those varsity runners, Zen Steward ran a 19:21 and captured the District Championship while Andy Duarte was 2nd with a 20:40. These two boys would have been varsity runners for any of the other district teams. That goes to show how deep our boys program currently is and why they are ranked in state.
The Punchers and Cowgirls will now move on to the Regional IV Cross Country Meet. It will be held in San Antonio at Brooks-City Base Golf Course. We hope to have a lot of support out there since the meet is no longer in Lubbock. Anyone needing directions can get those from Cindy Villarreal in the high school office. The Cowgirls will run a 10:00 AM with the Punchers to follow at 10:30. Both teams have a shot at the top three spots which will advance them to the state competition. We also have individuals that have a great chance to place in the top ten to qualify as individuals to the state competition. Please come out to support your Punchers and Cowgirls on Saturday, November 8th.