Runners leave it all on the field in Liberty Hill

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By KEITH SPARKS

On Saturday, more than 1,000 junior high and high school students from all over central Texas made their way to Liberty Hill for the 2016 Liberty Hill Cross Country Meet.

“We definitely had more junior high runners this year,” Cross Country Coach Kim Holt said. “It was a little bit packed. We had a problem with parking, with people parking in the grass on our 5k course, at one point. It seemed like there were a whole lot more people who showed up to view the meet.”

Represented in the boys varsity Conference 1A-4A meet were Wimberley, Fredericksburg, Salado, Gateway, Canyon Lake, Burnet, Johnson City, Grace Academy, Thrall, Concordia and, of course, Liberty Hill. The Panthers took second as a team, bested only by Fredericksburg, who beat them by a seven-point margin. The Panthers were followed in the standings by Wimberley, Salado, Gateway and Burnet, in that order.

What was arguably even more impressive than their second place finish was the fact that three of the top four times were run by Panthers. Alex Albarran, running in his first meet with the varsity team this year, finished second with a time of 17:37.42, less than a second behind the first place finisher, Craig Huey from Wimberley. Clayton Nance finished third with a time of 17:48.65, and Nick Roth finished fourth at 17:54.95. Gabriel Diaz finished just outside the top 10 with a time of 18:30.70, earning him 11th.

“That’s the first time we’ve seen that,” Holt said about having three of the top four finishers. “For them to all three be up there together was very surprising for us.”

Fredericksburg finished with only one runner in the top five, but had five out of the top 10, with runners finishing in 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th place, ultimately edging out the Panthers in the team standings. Although a little bit frustrated to finish second, despite three of the top four runners being Panthers, Coach Holt was encouraged by the performances of her top runners.

“At this point in the season…that’s encouraging,” Holt said. “Fredericksburg had a really good team. If our four and five guys would have been closer up, even if our five guy would have been up there closer to our four guy, it might have been different.”

The girls varsity team finished in second place, overall, being edged out by Fredericksburg as well. Mckynzie King ran the fastest time of any girl from Conferences 1A through 4A by a long shot, finishing with a time of 12:16.51. King finished close to 25 seconds before the second-place runner. Emma Hofmann finished in the top 10, as well, coming in seventh with a time of 13:09.74.

“The girls are coming along,” Holt said. “It’s still early. They were second, but we’ll continue to improve and go from there.”

Liberty Hill’s junior varsity boys top finisher was Collin Johnston with a time of 20:41.00, earning him 32nd.

He was followed by Sam Ramirez, who finished 33rd with a time of 20:46.00. The JV girls top performer was Mackenzie Bradley, who finished 23rd with a time of 15:09.00. Shannon Warren finished 26th with a time of 15:17.00.

Conference 5A and 6A teams ran in the meet as well, competing only against each other at the varsity level. 5A and 6A schools at the Liberty Hill Cross Country meet included Marble Falls, Cedar Ridge, Leander, East View, San Marcos and Anderson.

The Panthers’ next cross country meet will take place at Cedar Park High School for the Cedar Park Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 17. Races will begin at 8 a.m.

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