XC teams sweep Liberty Hill Meet with 1st Place finishes

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By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill varsity cross country teams had a stellar performance at their home meet last Saturday despite the wet and muddy conditions.

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams swept the competition to take first place finishes overall. The 2018 meet drew over 1,100 junior high and high school runners to Liberty Hill this year. Head Coach Kim Holt said it took some effort to get the course ready, but it was all worth it in the end.

“The rain started Friday overnight and it made for some different conditions,” Holt said. “You just have to adjust as best you can to the conditions. It is good practice and they need to know they can run in these kinds of conditions.”

The varsity girls took a first-place finish accumulating 40 points and the top five finishers finished in a time of 1:10.01 in the 1-4A division. Aubrey Caskey led the team with a time of 13:31 and had a fifth place finish overall. She was followed by Bella Brethower who placed sixth with a time of 13:54. Payton Stephenson finished eighth with a time of 14:05 and freshman Tyler Goode finished in 10th place overall in a time of 14:14.6. Lindsee Miller finished 11th in 14:14.9 and Hannah Brown wrapped up the top seven runners with a time of 14:15.7. After the race, Holt was extremely proud of the gutsy performance her team displayed.

“The girls took first place despite everything they had to deal with,” she said. “There were about four areas where there were water spots that needed to be dealt with. We talked about it and we told them they needed to be tough and they competed well. Our seniors were right in the middle of our 10 runners that ran, and I felt they did a good job of being leaders. Aubrey Caskey did a great job today. She has been leading us in practice and her times have improved so much. She is a senior this year and her dedication has really shown.”

Holt said when it comes to managing these types of conditions at a meet footing is the main thing runners are focused on.

“Footing is the biggest adjustment our runners have to make in these conditions,” she said. “In our backstretch it was slick and there are some puddles. I watched all the runners come through that area and they still had decent footing early on. It will get slicker as the races go on through the day so that is something runners will have to worry about.”

Freshman Angela Mena said the meet was a great experience overall.

“I think this meet was a great way to push yourself harder,” Mena said. “Here there is always someone running in front of you, so you can push yourself harder as you’re running. In the beginning of the race, I slipped a few times, but you just had to charge your way through the big piles of water.”

The varsity boys team also took gold at the meet led by junior Gabriel Diaz with a third-place finish overall in a time of 18:04.5. Diaz said the course was a challenge, but he was focused throughout.

“I felt the course was really tough and difficult,” Diaz said. “It affected my run pretty boldly and it was different than a flat course. I feel like it just helps get you better by getting through it.”

Cade Cole (18:20), Kevin Berber (18:28), and Nick Roth (18:40) finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Isaiah Delagarza (18:52) finished ninth followed by Gregory Miller (19:01) in tenth place overall. Ryan Davis rounded out the top seven runners in a time of 19:28.

“The boys competed hard today for us and we had five or six runners up front,” Holt said.

“Hopefully running against these larger schools and then coming back down to 4A to compete will continue to help us improve. I know the kids probably don’t really want to run in these conditions, but it is good practice for us going forward because you never know what you’re going to get. I am happy where we are at right now in this point in the season, but there is always still work to do.”

After the race, the Panthers were out of breath but happy with their results. Kevin Berber said his plan was to start fast.

“My plan was to start fast and keep up with Gabe,” Berber said.“This was my first wet race and I didn’t know what to expect, but I was happy with the result.”

Cole’s big take away was his team showed who they were.

“We had several people medal on our team on a tough day and I felt that showed who we are,” Cole said. “As a senior running this course for the last time it is special to finish it the way we did.”

Roth, a senior, used his catlike reflexes to avoid the big water spots during the race.

“Overall it is just a fun course to run,” Roth said. “This year it was a little dirty and wet, but they just made it a little challenge. All you can do is try to avoid the puddles, stay on the grass and stay light on your feet.”

Holt and the Panthers travel to Lago Vista Saturday for another challenging course.

“From my understanding, Lago Vista is a more difficult course than Vista Ridge,” she said. “I know it is a hilly area, but this is our first time going so we will see what we get. It’s a challenging course and that is something I think we need so we’re excited about it.”

The Liberty Hill junior varsity girls team finished in sixth place at the meet with a team total 175 points. The Panther junior varsity boys’ team finished in fifth place with a team total of 117 points.

Lance@LHIndependent.com

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