|Gut Check: Lady Panthers live up to the euphemism, but for Delgado the saying has real meaning|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Oct. 25, 2005 - BIRTHRIGHT - Running cross country can be a "gut check," a euphemism for a test of an athlete's intestinal fortitude. For Jesus Delgado on Monday, it wasn't just a saying.
Delgado finished 10th in the District 22-A race at North Hopkins High School Monday afternoon, then was taken to the hospital last night where he had his appendix removed.
His performance helped the Panthers qualify for the Class A, Region III meet on Nov. 5 as district runners-up. The NH girls won their division and also qualified.
"That was quite a performance from Jesus Delgado," said NH head coach Tim Menke. "Apparently, he had been throwing up that morning - I didn't know about it - and had thrown up again after the race.
"His father saw him after the race and told me he was taking him to the hospital. That was quite a performance."
North Hopkins had other outstanding performances - though not quite that dramatic.
NH sophomore Jessi Mannis led the Lady Panther varsity to a 1-2-3 finish as they won the district championship with 23 points. Meanwhile, Jesus' older brother, Raul Delgado, placed third in the varsity boys division to pace North Hopkins to a second-place finish behind McLeod.
North Hopkins also won the junior high boys and JV girls divisions and placed second in junior high girls.
Mannis, teammates junior Sabra Thomas and senior Rosa Fuentes took the lead almost immediately and finished 1-2-3 on the two-mile course looping around the North Hopkins school.
One of those three should be the favorite to win the regional meet, which will be held at North Harris County College, Menke said.
"I don't know who it will be," he explained. "They're all capable. Mannis has been training very hard all season, but it could be anyone of those top three."
Mannis broke the tape in 12 minutes, 29 seconds, while Thomas came in at 12:44 and Fuentes in 12:55. Mannis' time was almost identical to that ran at last year's district meet by eventual state champion and former teammate Kate Hollenshead.
The 2004 course was at Cooper Lake, where it was hillier and warmer. Monday's race was ran into a strong north wind.
"The wind affected the times, and the footing on this course is not real conducive to being fast," Menke said. "On parts of the course, the footing is pretty rough, and we have a gradual hill on part of the course running parallel to Highway 71."
Nonetheless, the Lady Panthers easily outdistanced Harleton in second place with 78 points. Rivercrest (81), Big Sandy (109), McLeod (114) and Avery (118) rounded out the field.
For North Hopkins, junior Ebbonye Johnson finished in eighth place in 14:02, while Virginia Thomas was 11th in 14:18, Cayla Newkirk came in 13th in 14:23, and Katy Williams finished 16th in 14:27.
There were 43 runners in the field.
McLeod's top runner, Kyle LaCroix, was the overwhelming favorite in the boys varsity race, and he won the 3.1-mile race in 15:59, leading the Longhorns to a first-place team finish with 19 points.
North Hopkins, though, finished with five runners in the top 15 to pull out second place with 46 points.
Raul Delgado was the Panther's top finisher, coming in third in 17:29, while teammate Pedro Gonzalez was sixth in 17:49. Jesus then finished 10th.
All of the top 10 places were taken up by either McLeod or North Hopkins runners.
Menke was especially encouraged by the Panthers' effort after two of the top five runners moved away earlier this semester.
"Raul has had a good year of training," Menke said. "I thought they all ran pretty strong."
Travis Tatum finished 14th for North Hopkins in 19:35, followed by Roger Sancho one place behind in 19:43. Josh McPherson came in 34th in 23:36.
Kara Mannis, the younger sister of Jessi, made it a double gold medal afternoon for the family as she won the JV girls race in a time of 14:32. The Lady Panthers swept the top four spots as Mannis was followed by Megan Lehr in 14:58, Hannah Martel in 15:46, and Evelina Sol in 16:05. Joy Johnson came in 13th in 20:33.
North Hopkins won the division with 20 points.
McLeod was the only team entered in the JV boys division, and Jeff Briggs won the race in 18:31.
In the junior high girls race, Brittany Whaley was the top NH runner, finishing third in 14:14. Erika LaCroix of McLeod won the race in 13:03.
The rest of the top five for North Hopkins was Laiken Gammill, sixth in 14:43, Shaman Petty, 17th in 15:27, Kaylea Flippen, 20th in 15:36, and Scarlet Lozano, 22nd in 15:43.
Other Lady Panthers running were Steva McCreary, Jessica Jones, Blair Bassham, Adesha Bisenius, Amy Rivera, Adrianna Sanchez, Madison Martel, Sabrina Hutchings, Danielle Jones, Jherica Moore and Courtney Looper.
McLeod won the division with 36 points, while North Hopkins was second with 68.
The NH boys held off McLeod to win the junior high boys division, 33-42.
Lorenza Rivera was the individual runner-up in 12:05, while Erick Perez was fourth in 12:22, Canyon Cockrum was seventh in 12:34, Paco Castro came in ninth in 12:40, and Brandon Joslin finished 11th in 12:51.
Other NH boys competing were Colton Boyd, Miguel Sanchez, Juan Delgado, Dylan Horn, Colt Baxter, Pablo Olquin, Dillon Mitchell and Jessy Anderson.