|SSHS cross country headed to regional meet|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Oct. 26, 2006 - PARIS - Cold, rainy and windy, the weather was miserable for the District 11-4A cross country meet on Wednesday.
It was a lot less miserable for Sulphur Springs once the results were posted.
The Wildcats came through with a dominating performance, as expected, and the Lady Cats put together a gutsy race to place third, so both teams will advance to the regional meet in two weeks.
Senior Graham Northcutt won the individual boys title with a time of 16 minutes, 37 seconds on the 3.1-mile course on the North Lamar campus, followed by teammate Kasie Carrell in second, Tate Ramirez in fourth, Dylan Rutherford in fifth and Tyler Wilson in ninth.
For the girls, senior Robin Grafton and sophomore Katie Dodd placed fifth and sixth and freshman Karlie Junot came in ninth to pace the Lady Cats.
The runners had to compete in a steady drizzle, buffeted by wind gusts that made the 60-degree temperature seem much colder.
"The weather wasn't great, but our performance was," said SSHS head coach Andy Holt. "Both the boys and the girls performed well, and really ran well and got after it. They didn't let the weather bother them - they didn't let it affect the way they ran."
The SSHS boys were expected to retain the district title they won last year, and they did so with ease, collecting 21 points. Lindale was second with 54, and Mount Pleasant claimed the final regional berth with 79 points.
The Wildcats went to the front of the pack after the first quarter-mile. Northcutt, Carrell, Ramirez and Rutherford were all in the top seven or eight after the first mile, and Wilson was close by.
When the runners came into view of the finish line with a half-mile to go, Northcutt had expanded his lead, and he broke the tape in a time of 16:37. Carrell also was alone in second at 17:50, then pack of four runners came through with Ramirez and Rutherford both clocking an 18:17. Wilson wasn't far behind in 18:38.
For Ramirez, the district meet was the first race he's ran since he had hip surgery just three weeks ago.
"It's pretty amazing that he is back," Holt said, "and I'm proud of the way he fought through that. We're pleased with where we're at now. Hopefully in the next week-and-a-half Tate and Dylan� can get healthy, and Tate can get some more conditioning in."
Rutherford, a sophomore, has also been competing with a hip ailment.
Erich Hartin finished 13th for the Wildcats in a time of 19:13 and Rolando Larios was 16th in 19:39.
The Lady Cats knew they would have to run well to get a regional qualifying spot since North Lamar won the meet, as expected. That left Lindale, Sulphur Springs and Mount Pleasant in the mix for the final two spots.
With rain falling and four of the teams sporting blue uniforms, it was difficult initially to tell which teams would emerge as second and third, but when the results were posted, the Lady Cats had scored 60 points to claim the final qualifying spot. North Lamar scored 27 points, Lindale 47, and Mount Pleasant was fourth with 98.
The Lady Cats were led by Grafton, who ran near the front of the pack and finished strong to claim fifth place in a time of 13:20. Just nine seconds behind came Dodd, who was sixth. Then, Junot used a great kick to move up over the final quarter-mile to claim ninth in 13:34.
Sophomore Cecily Adams came through with a 20th-place finish in 14:31, followed by junior Kelsey Evans in 25th in 14:40, and freshman Kacie Crowson one place back in 14:41.
The race was the first time Grafton had been the Lady Cats' top runner, and it also was an adventure for Evans, who was running with a swollen knee but managed to pick up a precious few places for the team.
"Robin Grafton ran extremely well," Evans said. "Kelsey Evans was a trooper and really toughed it out. I'm really proud of the way all the girls performed. They really stepped it up and ran well."
The SSHS teams will run at the Class 4A, Region II meet on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Vandergriff Park in Arlington. The top three teams and 10 individuals qualify for state.
The Wildcats, who placed fifth last year, have a legitimate shot at advancing.
"It's better than we thought a couple of weeks ago with Tate being out," Holt said. "We were pleased with the way the guys ran yesterday. We're not really concerned about times because the weather was just so bad. We were focused on places."
In the JV race, Sulphur Springs dominated with eight runners placing in the top 10. Quinton Larry won the individual race in a time of 19:11, and that will put him on the varsity team for the regional meet.
He was followed by Garrett Gray in second place in 19:31, and Chris White in third at 20:11. Zach Junot placed fifth, Andy Ginn sixth, Triston Crook seventh, Jesus Torres eighth and Ross Hicks ninth.
Andrew Wallace and Bailey Booher were 12th and 13th, respectively.
"That certainly looks good for the future," Holt said.
Other runners for the Wildcats were Tyler Usher, Ethan Mitchell, Victor Gonzalez, Rodrigo Larios, Robby Moore, Brad Worsham and Cody Brown.
Team - 1. North Lamar 27; 2. Lindale 47; 3. Sulphur Springs 60; 4. Mount Pleasant 98; 5. Texas High 121.
Top 10 - 1. Lindsay Thompson, NL, 13:07; 2. Brytnie Miller, NL, 13:09; 3. Morgan Reynolds, Lindale, 13:12; 4. Ali Stone, NL, 13:16; 5. Robin Grafton, SS, 13:20; 6. Katie Dodd, SS, 13:29; 7. Angela Collins, Paris, 13:31; 8. Taylor Samuel, NL, 13:33; 9. Karlie Junot, SS, 13:34; 10. Melissa Allen, Paris, 13:37.
Team - 1. Sulphur Springs 21; 2. Lindale 54; 3. Mount Pleasant 79; 4. Paris 97; 5. Texas High 137; 6. North Lamar 146.
Top 10 - 1. Graham Northcutt, SS, 16:37; 2. Kasie Carrell, SS, 17:50; 3. Erling Johnson, Lindale, 18:06; 4. Tate Ramirez, SS, 18:17; 5. Dylan Rutherford, SS, 18:17; 6. L. Cecitti, Lindale, 18:19; 7. Clint Cobb, Paris, 18:26; 8. Jesus Garcia, MP, 18:29; 9. Tyler Wilson, SS, 18:38; 10. Geovanni DeJesus, MP, 18:49.