by JASON GORDON
All four local varsity cross-country teams braved rainy conditions at the Pflugerville Invitational last Friday.
The Hays High boys finished fourth overall, while the Lady Rebs finished eighth on the 3.1-mile course. The Lehman High boys finished eighth, while the Lady Lobos were 14th against some of the best competition in the area.
“It was pouring down rain and really muddy,” Lehman head coach Jay Sansom said. “Our seniors have never raced in mud in their four year careers, so this was a new condition to a lot of us. But we were all racing on the same sloppy course so we all had to try and adjust.”
Hays’ Ryan McSpadden finished seventh and Esteban Villalpando finished ninth individually. Lehman’s Nick Wittkopp finished 11th overall out of more than 150 runners to also earn an individual medal.
Hays head coach Cliff Buckley agreed the course conditions were tough.
“They ran in reverse order, which meant varsity went last,” Buckley said. “The course got progressively muddier as the day moved on. At that point varsity ran the course was just crazy. The kids came in covered from head to toe in mud. I told them to just go out there and race hard and have fun. These are the types of races that you remember for a long time.”
Sansom said there was a bit of strategy among the chaos, but everyone was aware of it.
“There was one strip of green grass near the finish, and I told our runners to go for it, but there was a mad dash to that part of the course,” Sansom said. “It was wild, people were slipping and sliding. It was a day of survival but I was proud of how our kids reacted. We are closing the gap between our number one through five runner and that’s been our goal all along before district.”
Rounding out the field for the Hays varsity boys were Jason Peed, Nathaniel Alvarado, Heath Agnew, Kenny Belden and Anthony Lewis.
The Lehman boys finishing behind Wittkopp were Brian Velasquez, Victor Bravo, Jaysen Gonzales and Patrick Villarreal.
The Hays girls were led by Carly Hogue, who was 29th overall. Rounding out the field for the Lady Rebs were Rose Hyak, Marissa Sigala, Mariah Gaitan, Jordan Giberson, Maegan Shoffner and Tabitha Rodriguez.
The Lady Lobos were led by Ofelia Negrete, who was 40th individually. She was followed by teammates Ashley Morgan, Pressley Bailey, Andrea Delgado and Beatriz Palada.
“This was our first race at the 3.1-mile distance so it was good to see how our athletes were going to respond to that challenge,” said Lehman head girls coach Monica Tovar. “I told them they would have to fight through the obstacle of the rain. People were getting their shoes stuck in the mud and twisting and turning because of the conditions, but I thought we did a good job overcoming everything. We’re still trying to find our top seven varsity runners, and I’m looking for a level of consistency. That will be our main goal between now and the district race.”
The Rebels will now host the Hays Invitational on Saturday on the HHS campus. Both the Lehman and Hays varsity and sub-varsity teams will participate. Races are scheduled to begin between 8:30 and 10 a.m.