By LANCE CATCHINGS
The Liberty Hill cross country teams competed in the Vista Ridge XC Invitational last Friday, August 25, and performed well. The varsity girls took a first-place finish in the two-mile event, while the boys finished 15th in the traditional 5k race. Head Cross Country Coach Kim Holt said she was pleased with her team’s performance in their first full meet of the season.
“The varsity girls placed first in the two-mile and we are very pleased with their effort,” Holt said. “We’ve talked to them about finishing close together. In the past, we’ve always had a person on our team that can really jump out and place top three in the meet overall. We don’t necessarily have that type of runner right now for the girls, but we have a really good group.”
Toughness is the name of the game in cross country, and one Lady Panther showed just what that means. During a race, every second counts, and that means nothing can stop a runner from moving forward, not even an important equipment malfunction.
“Molly Cowart lost her shoe within the first 100 meters,” Holt said. “She ran the whole race with one shoe. She normally finishes in the top five and she was number seven of the ten girls we ran. She’s our only senior, so for having only one shoe she did really well. She gutted up and on that back part of the race there was some gravel. She bruised her foot a bit but she didn’t want to stop.”
Cowart finished 22nd, overall, with a time of 15:08.70. The top five runners for the varsity girls were Eliana Luna with a time of 13:39.30, Hannah Johnson with a time of 13:52.80, Kennedy Coleman with a time of 13:54.20, Hannah Brown with a time of 14:08.80 and Madison Sears with a time of 14:19.90. Luna finished third overall, Johnson finished fifth, Coleman finished seventh, Brown finished ninth, and Sears finished 10th.
Gabriel Diaz led the varsity boys team across the finish line with a time of 17:46.90 while finishing 41st, overall. Alex Albarran, Cade Cole, Nick Roth and Walker Gilbert rounded out the top five finishers for the Panther boys, finishing with times of 18:17.80, 18:48.90, 18:53.10 and 19:14.20, respectively.
“I feel the boys ran really well for it being their first meet,” Holt said. “Gabe (Diaz) was our third or fourth guy last year and finished as our number one guy this time out. That’s a very good time this early for him. Cade Cole struggled a bit last year to be our number five, and was our third guy so he ran very well. Nick (Roth) and Walker (Gilbert) both had a good race for us as well. For our first full meet, they performed well on a tough course. The back stretch had some steep hills, so that course is not easy.”
While the head coach is happy with the effort her teams put forth, she also believes the team has a long way to go.
“We will run against more competitive teams when we get to district and especially when we get to regionals,” Holt said. “The boys ran on a tough course so their times were probably a little slow. We’d like to see them run a course that’s not so hilly and those times will be faster. Right now, we’re pleased with how they ran. When they run at the meet we host there are no hills so the times will get better.”
The Panthers next cross country meet will take place on September 9 at Liberty Hill High School. The meet is expected to draw approximately 900 participants.
“There will be roughly 25 teams, overall, split into a big school, small school and junior high division. There will be 8 races overall and we are expecting 800-900 runners that day,” Holt said.