by JASON GORDON
Both the Hays and Lehman high schools boys and girls cross-country teams wrapped up the regular season with a trip to the District 27-4A meet on Saturday in Lockhart.
The Rebels and Lobos both had team aspirations of qualifying for the regional meet in San Antonio, but the tough competition meant in the end only three Hays athletes qualified for regionals individually.
The Hays boys finished fifth and the Lehman boys were seventh as a team. The Lady Rebels were also fifth and the Lady Lobos were sixth.
Boerne Champion won both varsity team races.
Lady Rebel freshman Esmi Fuentes finished fourth overall to qualify for the regional meet.
Hays’ Esteban Villapando finished ninth overall and Ryan McSpadden finished 10th to make the regional race.
Ashley Morgan led the Lady Lobos with a 20th place finish, and Nick Wittkopp led the Lehman boys by finishing in 23rd place.
“We had a tough day of racing. The competition in our district has gotten to a pretty crazy point,” Hays head coach Cliff Buckley said. “These are probably some of the best runners I have ever coached while being at Hays High school and it just wasn’t enough this year. The pace was really quick and there was a sense of urgency at the meet. We knew going in that we needed a good performance from everyone and I really feel that my varsity kids gave their all. Sometimes it’s just not enough. We had a great year and our kids battled hard and that is all you can ask.”
Lehman head boys coach Jay Sansom agreed.
“Nick should have been in the top 10 and we were hoping he’d be there so he could make it to regionals, but I think he just went out too fast,” Sansom said. “It’s disappointing not to have anyone qualify, but we can learn from this and come back stronger next year.”
Buckley was proud of his team members who made it to regionals.
“It was great to get Esteban and Ryan to the regional meet,” he said. “They have worked tirelessly, starting with as soon as track was over in the spring. They put in a lot of miles over the summer and it paid off. Getting out of this district by itself is a huge accomplishment. It is like a mini-regional. Esmi is a special kid and it showed at this meet. She will not give up and she never looked back. She is a fiery competitor and she does not like to lose.”
The Hays trio will be running in San Antonio in the Region IV Championship Meet at the National Shooting Complex on Saturday. Both races begin shortly after noon. The top 10 individual finishers at regionals will qualify for the UIL State Cross Country Meet on Saturday, Nov. 10 at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.