Saturday morning in Round Rock, Texas, it was a cold and windy, yet sunshiny day. The Punchers and Cowgirls arrived at the competition course around 8:30 am to prepare for their first ever UIL State Cross Country Meet that began promptly at 10:00 am.
Both the Punchers and the Cowgirls were well aware that today would be the toughest competition this year. The runners that were scheduled to run today were the best 100+ distance runners from all across the state of Texas in Class A. Not only would it be tough to run a great race with the weather conditions, but the course would be packed from start to finish because of the talent of all 100+ runners.
Running for the Cowgirls was Myles Banner (So.), Hillary Bibb (Jr.), Lydia Bjork (Sr.), Kaitlyn Cavness (Fr.), Brittany Estes (Sr.), Shayla Estes (So.), and Lauren Keith (Sr.). All seven of these young ladies have worked extremely hard this season (some for the last six seasons) to accomplish what no other Cowgirl team in Mason school history has ever done before. Although they were not in contention for a state medal, it was a great feat to be able to run against the best in the state. Lydia finished 25th, Hillary 52nd, Shayla 61st, Brittany 63rd, Kaitlyn 80th, Myles 93rd, and Lauren 101st. Myles Banner actually posted her fastest time of the season on a tough course in difficult conditions with a 14:46. As a team, the Cowgirls finished as the 8th best team in the state of Texas in Class A.
Following the girls’ Class A competition were the boys’ Class A runners. The Punchers were in contention for a medal, but would have to overcome their lack of experience. In order to medal, the Punchers would have to upset two of the top five teams coming into the meet. Sundown, Boys Ranch, and Plains all come out of Region I which is traditionally the strongest region when it comes to cross country. All three of those teams have multiple appearances in the state meet as well as top finishes, including the State Championship. The two other teams were Winters from Region II and North Hopkins from Region III. Four of those teams had been ranked higher than the Punchers all season long.
As the race began, all seven runners were mixed in among the pack of 100+ runners as they should be. As the meet progressed, the Punchers held their positions or moved up. Marcelo Segura ran with the front pack from start to finish and ended up as an All-State runner with an individual medal for a 7th place finish. Tomas Callejas, just out of the All-State honors, finished 16th. Our next three runners all ran their person best times, finishing in a pack of athletes. Melesio Segura finished 41st (18:15), Jorge Morales 48th (18:25), and Ramiro Casas 51st (18:32). What has made this team so strong all year long is that our number three through seven runners are so close to each other. Emmanual Segura finished 56th and Jeremy Duarte 67th. That is what makes any team so strong is their depth. When one is having a bad day, there is always someone ready and able to fill in the gap.
At the completion of the race, all we could do was sit and wait patiently for the results. Unofficial results are posted, yet not announced for 30 minutes so that any protest by coaches can be made and investigated. How we kept our boys from finding out where they finished as a team is still unbelievable to me. After waiting for what seemed an eternity, they finally called the top three teams to the awards tent. It sure is a good thing they announced Mason third because the kids screamed with excitement and no one would have been able to hear the names of the other schools. As the boys stood on the awards stand to be draped with their Bronze medals, the announcer made special note that “. . . the boys that stand before you have made history today! They are the first team in history for Mason High School to ever run in the UIL State Cross Country Meet.” The entire crowd erupted with cheers of celebration as if they were all from Mason. They were just as proud of our kids as their own community. It was a feeling that they will never forget, or will I.
Thanks to everyone that made the trip out to Round Rock, and all the other meets we had this season. Your congratulations this years have been overwhelming.