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2011 SPORTS PREVIEW: Area teams gear up for cross-country season
While the main buzz regarding fall sports may focus on the area’s football and volleyball teams, fans shouldn’t forget about all the cross-country teams working hard at every school around. Running several miles over rugged terrain isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for many young athletes, it is their sport of choice.
At East Central High School, Head Coach Paul Frost is busy preparing his kids for a run at the title. The Hornet varsity boys team finished second in the district last year, and the girls went home in third.
“Corpus Christi Carroll is very good every year and is generally the team to beat, but this year they need to worry about us,” said Assistant Coach Amber Bonnett.
Frost said he felt the same way, and knows this could be the year the Hornet and Lady Hornet runners claim the district titles and make a run for regional dominance.
On the boys side, seniors Javier Salas and Abraham Juarez, along with junior Adam Lee, will lead the team. For the girls, it’s likely to be senior Amber Hazlewood and juniors Samantha Pinedo and Savanah Silva who are running out in front.
“Things look really promising,” Frost said. “The kids have been working hard over the summer and are ready to go.”
Their goals are to get their times down, win the district titles, and then to do well at the regionals. Frost said if his team can avoid injuries and stay focused throughout the season, it should be a good year for the black and gold.
Another local team chasing after titles is La Vernia. The Bears finished third in the state last season after winning both the district and regional titles, and the Lady Bears won the district title.
The Bears will return four of the team’s seven members from last year, and will be led by seniors Nick Padgett and Brayden Boren. Junior Roberto Guzman and sophomore Dillon Goan will help spearhead the crew toward another run at gold. Seniors Erik Tuttle and Colby Huth lead the list of hopefuls trying to crack into the top seven.
On the girls side, there is talent coming from every direction. All seven of last year’s varsity runners are back, and several additional runners are competing for the top spots.
“It’s sort of a different situation for us this year,” said Head Coach Richard Hinojosa. “We have 13 girls legitimately fighting for those top seven spots.”
Sophomore Bailee Vrana was a state qualifier last year, and will lead the team that includes juniors Brianna Kruciak, Carly Barnes, Allison Freeman, Shayler Ring, and sophomores Jessica Perry and Jordan Albert. Vrana is the defending district champ in cross country, as well as the 3,200-meter run. Perry is the defending district silver medalist, and Kruciak is the current La Vernia High School record holder in the 3,200-meter run.
Hinojosa appears to have been correct when he said, “We don’t rebuild -- we reload.”
When it comes to goals, Hinojosa said they don’t really change. The boys are chasing nothing less than a state championship, and the girls’ goal is to win the region and medal at state.
“It’s going to be fun,” Hinojosa said of the upcoming season. “Nothing is going to be easy, but I’m putting my money on the Bears and Lady Bears!”
The Tigers and Jaguars have another strong group of runners in Floresville, and several of the area’s other coaches are taking notice. Head Coach Greg McWilliams and his assistants have had their kids working hard since the first of August, and it hasn’t been easy given the intense heat.
The Tigers and Jags return a number of athletes from last year, and there is a lot of buzz surrounding sophomore De Havalan Watts II. Watts advanced to the state meet as a freshman, and should lead the Jaguars to a strong season. The district remains the same for Floresville, and while the competition will be tough, there is a lot of promise for the Tigers and Jaguars.
Poth, Stockdale, Nixon-Smiley, and Falls City
Down in Poth, Coach Joe McKinney has been getting his athletes ready for another season of cross-country running, and things look good for the Pirates and Pirettes.
Several runners from last year will return to the team for Poth this season, and they should make a good run at the title.
Thomas Rodriguez, Dylan Sefcik, Spencer Flieller, Jake Sekula, and Marcos Guevara will run for the Pirates, while Whitney Lynch, Devon Dylla, Justine Quintanilla, Keeley McKinney, and Claire Dallmeyer will represent the Pirettes.
Head Coach Lester Jackson has been working hard to ready his group of runners in Stockdale, and has put together another good group of varsity runners.
Many of the Brahma and Lady Brahma runners often do double duty by participating in more than one sport, but still make time to represent Stockdale on the cross-country course.
Stockdale’s first meet will be in Moulton Sept. 10, followed by the University of Texas at San Antonio on the 17th, and over in Poteet on the 24th.
Nixon-Smiley and Falls City will also field teams to compete in the cross-country season, and there is never a doubt that their teams will be ready for competition.
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