LHHS Varsity, JV cross country teams win 3rd straight district title

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By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill cross country teams showed up and showed out at the UIL 4A District 27 meet held in Lampasas last Thursday, as the varsity boys, varsity girls, junior varsity boys and junior varsity girls did a clean sweep to take first place across all four divisions.

This is the third consecutive year for all four teams to bring the district championship back to Liberty Hill.

“All four of our teams ran well Thursday,” said Head Coach Kim Holt. “Both of our junior varsity teams had perfect scores. The first 14 runners that came through the finish line in the junior varsity boys’ race were all from Liberty Hill, and that was amazing. The junior varsity girls, the first five runners were from Liberty Hill.”

The varsity girls finished with a team total of 33 points, edging out second-place Salado by three. Salado finished second with 36 points, followed by Lampasas (71), Taylor (98) and Burnet (129). Senior Aubrey Caskey led her team once again with a third-place finish, overall, in a time of 13:00.2. Hannah Johnson finished fifth with a time of 13:01.9, followed by Bella Brethower in sixth with a 13:02.5. Freshman Tyler Goode came in eighth for the Lady Panthers in 13:09.6, and teammate Madison Sears finished 11th in 13:17.8. Senior Hannah Brown finished 13th in 13:20.4, and Lindsee Miller finished 15th in 13:25.9.

Holt said the team was confident and prepared going in, knowing you can never let your guard down.

“Aubrey Caskey was our number one runner on the girls’ side again, and she has done a great job for us all year,” Holt said. “We knew that we had previously beaten the teams in our district, but you never know what can happen going in. Teams show up on that day and they are hyped up to beat Liberty Hill. The girls only won by three points, so they had to really push to pull it out. Each meet for our girls, they have really improved, and the freshman have been up there. Bella and Tyler have been in our top seven consistently, and their growth has been good to see for the future of the program. All the girls have improved in every meet and really grown as a team.”

The boys’ team blew away the competition with a team total of 29 points. Salado took second place with a total of 73 points, followed by Austin Eastside Memorial (75), Lampasas (91) Taylor (111) and Burnet (162).

Junior Gabriel Diaz led the Panthers with a third-place finish in 16:37.3. Gregory Miller finished fifth in 16:54.7, followed by Jacob Russell in sixth with a 17:01.7 Kevin Berber finished seventh with a 17:07.6, and senior Nick Roth came in eighth with a 17:16. Senior Sam Roth grabbed the 10th spot with a 17:41.4 finish, and Isaiah De la Garza finished 16th in 17:56 to round out the runners for Liberty Hill.

Holt was impressed by the individual performances of several of her runners. Many younger runners have stepped up in the absence of senior Cade Cole, who was injured midway through the season.

“Gabriel Diaz came in first for us again this meet,” Holt said. “Greg Miller also ran well for us, finishing in 16:54, and that is the first time he broke the 17-minute mark this season. Freshman Jacob Russell also stepped up and finished in our top five with a 17:01. The boys’ team has really had to step up in the absence of Cade Cole and helped the team a lot. It has been awhile since we have had freshman boys run that fast for us. Cade has been injured since the Salado meet on Sept. 20. He ran with the junior varsity team for this meet, and the good news is he is back to practicing.”

The post-race celebration for the varsity teams is well deserved, but will be short lived. Liberty Hill moved to Region IV this season and will need to get right back to work if they want to achieve their goal of bringing home a regional championship. The Region IV meet will be held Monday in Corpus Christi. Holt said the girls’ team will have to be faster to compete.

“Region IV is tough on the girls’ side,” she said. “There are around six teams that are vying for spots, and only four get to go, so we are in the mix. I believe the girls can run faster. Some of our seniors ran the regional course this year, back when they were freshmen, so they have seen it before. We will go down Sunday and walk the course, so they can see it before the race. It will be tougher this year than it was last year at the Region III meet.”

The varsity boys will have several teams to keep an eye out for as they look to win another regional title.

“There are a couple teams we will have to watch out for on the boys’ side,” Holt said. “Progresso, La Vernia and Boerne are all fast teams. We have five boys that have run in the 16:00s for us so far. It looks like it will be a fast course. Hopefully, the weather will be good and it is not too hot. We run at 12 p.m. and 12:20 p.m. The boys are pumped up and ready to go, and they will have a shot to compete.”

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