by JASON GORDON
More than 1,000 high school and junior high athletes took to the cross-country course in Lockhart last weekend.
Both Hays and Lehman were in attendance and did well despite being up against tough competition, including a few teams they will see down the road in the District 27-4A meet.
The Hays High boys and girls varsity teams both finished fifth overall out of 19 teams, while the Lehman High boys finished ninth.
“It was a huge race on Saturday,” said Hays head coach Cliff Buckley. “There were so many kids running and the fan support was great too. It’s definitely a good environment you want your team to experience early in the year.”
The race for both boys and girls was 3,000 meters (just under two miles), less than the 3.1-mile distance they will race at the district, regional and state levels this year.
“It was a good training race that I think will help our team progress,” Sansom said. “We had a good run, but I think we’ll actually do better once we stretch out and start racing at 3.1 miles.”
In addition to District 27-4A foes Lockhart and Clemens being in attendance alongside Hays and Lehman, powerful teams like Lake Travis, Marble Falls, La Vernia and two-time Class 2A defending boys state champion Luling were also in the race.
“We got to see how we matched up against some of the best teams in the area,” Buckley said.
The Hays girls were led by Rose Hyak’s 19th-place overall individual finish, which was good enough to earn her a medal. Carly Hogue (26th place), Maegan Shoffner (28th), Marissa Sigala (32nd) and Jennifer Colonnetta (40th) rounded out the field for the Lady Rebs.
“I was very happy with our girls team,” Buckley said. “I thought they ran well and did a good job of being close together when they crossed the finish line.”
Esteban Villalpando finished 11th overall and Ryan McSpadden was 13th for the Rebels, as both medaled individually. Jason Peed (37th), Nathaniel Alvarado (47th) and Heath Agnew (60th) also helped the Rebs to their fifth-place overall finish.
“Esteban and Ryan both took home medals, which is hopefully going to be a trend this year,” Buckley said. “I thought the guys ran a great race, considering the competition. The good news is both of our squads ran well and looked solid doing it. We saw half the schools in our district today, so we got an idea of where we might fit in. We know it will be a tough district, but we are still striving to get both teams to regionals.”
The Lehman boys were led by Nick Wittkopp (24th), Brian Velasquez (30th), Patrick Villarreal (33rd), Jaysen Gonzales (37th) and Mario Garcia (89th).
“We knew going into the season that developing that fifth runner was going to be key,” Sansom said. “It’s tough having to count an 89 in our score, but it’s just a matter of some of our younger guys getting the mileage in during workouts. We have about four or five guys right now competing for that fifth spot. If we can get that time down, I think we can be right in the mix competing as a team at district. If not, we’ll have four individuals at the district meet, trying to make it to regionals.”