PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Junior Cade Cole helps lead Panthers to District Championship

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Junior runner Cade Cole gets in the zone during the Panthers’ District Championship on Oct. 13. Cole finished the race 12th, overall, with a time of 17:45.20. (Laura Coleman Photo)

By LANCE CATCHINGS

During his five years of cross country, Liberty Hill junior Cade Cole has logged more mileage than he can count. His running days began after witnessing the success of his older sister, Chelsea Cole.

“My sister ran cross country for four years at Liberty Hill and made it to State all four years,” Cole said. “Her running success made me want to run. I started running at Liberty Hill Junior High and just enjoy and have a passion for it. My dad is from here, and I’ve lived here my entire life, so it feels good to represent my school and town in cross country. At LHJH, we always dominated the District Meets, and I enjoyed doing that.”

With his early success, the three-year letterman had no doubt in his mind about running for the Panthers in high school. He knew it would be an adjustment, but was ready for the challenge immediately.

“Coming to high school was a little different,” he said. “You have to work a lot harder, and they really push you to make your target times. Having to compete at this level is more difficult, but it’s satisfying. My freshman year, we made it to Regionals as a team, but did not perform great once we got there.”

As a sophomore last season, he was a member of the team that made it to the State Meet.

“My sophomore year, we got better and won the Regional Meet and went to State,” he said. “We finished 16th, overall, as a team, which was a little disappointing. This year, I hope we do better and hopefully make it to State, which we have a good shot at doing. At the State Meet, there are a lot of fast runners and the competition is tough, but all you can do is find someone to stick with and give it your all.”

Prior to the 19-4A District Meet on Oct. 13, in Lampasas, Cole was confident about his team’s chances to win District. His confidence proved to be well-deserved, as the Panthers walked away as District Champions at all four levels, including boys and girls varsity and boys and girls JV. Cole finished 12th, overall, with a time of 17:45.20.

“At district, we hope to get first, but our goal every year is to get on the State podium,” Cole said. “That is what we’ve been working for, and we’ve really been pushing hard. Now, we are running with people in our district, which is our focus. Right now, we are looking forward to the District Meet and performing well on that day. We feel familiar with the course, but Coach Holt always says you have to show up on that day and run hard on that day. Every year, the expectation is to win District and make it on to Regionals. That is just the expectation when you run here at Liberty Hill.”

Cole wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to work on getting better. By 7 a.m., he has logged more miles than most people will in an entire week. He said the early mornings and hard training sessions are all worth it when the Panthers take home a District Championship.

“We practice at 6:15 a.m., so I usually get up around 5:30 a.m. to get going, and we start our training around 6:30 a.m.,” Cole said. “When I run, I think about different things. I often think about something else I am looking forward to later that day and try to keep pushing myself to become better. It’s exciting to think about making it to Regionals in Huntsville and to stay in the hotel. We know to do that we need to take care of business at District.”

Head Coach Kim Holt said Cole has showed constant progression since entering the program, and has become a leader among his teammates.

“Cade started as a freshman and he competed on the varsity,” Holt said. “As they get older, they get stronger if they stay with it, and you can see that from him. Last year, he was our five guy, and he beat the people he needed to beat, and that helped them win the Regional. This year, as a junior, he has really come along. He is running in the 17:00s, and has done a really good job and become a leader for us. He has grown taller and stronger, and it’s amazing to see him progress from then to now. He is a great student, person, and great cross country athlete.”

Cole will compete in the Regional Meet with the rest of the varsity boys at Kate-Barr Ross Park in Huntsville at 2:15 p.m. Oct. 23.

Lance@LHIndependent.com

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