Boys XC team advances to State, Caskey advances for girls

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By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill Cross Country teams competed at the Region IV meet in Corpus Christi Monday morning, with the boys’ team taking a second-place finish, overall, and advancing to the 2018 State Meet. The girls finished fifth, overall, just missing the cut for a team trip to the State Championships.

Head Coach Kim Holt said the boys’ team had to overcome the weather, but did a great job once on the course.

“We had to deal with the weather the whole week of practice before the regional meet in Corpus Christi,” Holt said. “The boys toughed it out and got to the meet and performed well to earn a second-place finish. We are extremely proud of what they did.”

The Liberty Hill boys’ team finished with 105 total points. Kevin Berber led the team with a 10th place finish, overall, in a time of 15:29.26. Gabriel Diaz finished 17th in 15:34.78, followed by senior Nick Roth in 15:42.32. Gregory Miller finished 22nd in 15:43.94, followed by Jacob Russell in 16:07.53. Sam Roth finished in 16:38.35, followed by Cade Cole in 17:13.71.

“Progresso has won that region three times in a row, and they beat us by about 44 points,” she said. “Region IV is tough, and it was a fast course just under three miles long. The course was flat and our times were fast, and thankfully, we got some pretty good weather. The whole season we talked about this, so they really stepped up and performed to get to the State Meet. Kevin led us this meet and beat Gabe for the first time. Berber came to us last year from Leander Glenn and was our eighth runner alternate. He did not run with us at regionals last year, but he came with us. He was excited and stepped up to run one of his best races.”

With the midseason injury to senior Cade Cole, the Panthers have relied heavily on their two freshmen to step up, and they have filled the role and then some.

“Cade got injured and we were really concerned after that,” Holt said. “We had two freshman boys step up big for us. Greg Miller and Jacob Russell have really stepped up for us, running in our top five. I don’t know if we have ever had freshman boys running the times that they are running. They stepped up after Cade got injured, and we realized we still had a chance to get to State. They have continued to step up every week, and we needed that from them. They really helped us advance to State this year.”

The Lady Panthers just missed the cut for the State Meet, but can be proud of all they accomplished this season. The girls’ team tallied a total of 158 points in the regional meet.

Aubrey Caskey led the team with an 11th place finish in 11:39.22. Tyler Goode was 22nd in 11:48.73, followed by Bella Brethower in 30th with a time of 11:58.46. Lindsee Miller finished in 12:13.72, followed by Hannah Johnson in 12:14.10. Madison Sears finished in 12:15.23 and Ellie Luna wrapped up the top seven runners for Liberty Hill in 12:44.85.

“The girls team finished fifth, just one place away from getting to the State Meet,” Holt said. “Bandera won the girls region again this year. We knew Region IV would be tough for the girls. They had all ran their best times of the season, because it was a flat and fast course. They all showed up, worked hard and just came up 12 points short.”

Caskey’s 11th-place finish earned her an individual spot at the State Championships this season. Caskey, who has made a tremendous improvement from last season, said she is excited about the opportunity.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me,” Caskey said. “Looking back, I never would have thought I could qualify individually for State. It is a great way to end the season.”

Holt likes to use Caskey as an example of what can happen if you work hard in the offseason.

“She has had an amazing year,” Holt said. “Coming from being our seventh runner to our number-one runner, and now she is going to State, just shows what hard work can do. She finally decided this is what she wanted to do. Her transformation from last year to now is great, and I’m happy she made it for her senior year. She will train with the boys and see what she can do at State. I use her as an example, so other runners can see that this is what can happen if you work hard.”

The Cross Country State Championship meet will be held Nov. 3 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. The 4A girls’ race will begin at 1:20 p.m., followed by the boys at 1:50 p.m.

Lance@LHIndependent.com

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