Wildcat cross country wins team title at Commerce
From Staff Reports

Sept. 5, 2006 - COMMERCE - The Sulphur Springs cross country boys shot into the Top 10 rankings last week, debuting at No. 4 in Class 4A.

They didn't hurt their rankings on Saturday.

The Wildcats won the team title at the Margo Harbison Invitational, contested Saturday at Eddie Moore Park, by having their top four runners place in the top five at the meet.

Senior Graham Northcutt, a two-time cross country state meet competitor, won the individual championship with a time of 16 minutes, 17 seconds on the 3.1-mile course. Junior Tate Ramirez was second in 16:46, followed in fourth by senior Kasie Carrell in 17:18, and Dylan Rutherford in fifth in 17:25. Junior Tyler Wilson placed fifth on the SSHS team, 23rd overall, in 18:56.

The Wildcats were unranked by the Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas before they placed second at the competitive Greenhill 6-Mile Relay in Dallas the previous week.

"I was pretty shocked and pretty excited at the same time," said SSHS head coach Andy Holt. "I thought we had a chance to be in the top 10 this year, but I didn't think it would come this quickly. We had a good showing at Greenhill, and I guess some other coaches took notice.

"The guys are definitely excited about being No. 4 in the state. It may be a little too soon for us to have that recognition. It puts a lot of pressure on us, so we've got to see what we can do."

On Saturday, they were the top team out of 12 squads at the meet, beating out North Mesquite for the championship.

They did it without three runners who would be vying for a spot on varsity. Rolando Larios, Erich Hartin and Chris White all had conflicts and couldn't run. 

Holt figures that the top four spots on varsity are all safe, but the No. 5-7 roles can change every meet. Running No. 6 on Saturday was Jesus Torres in 20:49, and Victor Gonzales was seventh in 20:55.

"It was just a good first meet. Everybody competed and everybody bettered their time from our trials held earlier in the week," he explained. "The guys are looking good right now, and we've just got to stay healthy - that's the key - to give us a shot when we get to regional."

Two other Region II teams, McKinney North and Mesquite Poteet, are currently ranked ahead of the Wildcats in the state standings. Three teams from each region qualify for state.

"We're just going to keep trying hard to see how things work out," Holt added. "We've still got two months before the regional meet, so we'll know more as it gets closer."

In the JV race, Sulphur Springs placed second behind North Mesquite, as the Wildcats had seven runners place between eighth and 16th place.

Preston Weaver led the JV Cats by placing eighth in 21:08. Coming in ninth and 10th were Justin Blount (21:33) and Andrew Wallace (21:38), while Ross Hicks (21:49) and Bailey Booher (21:51) were 12th and 13th, and Bailey Booher (22:01) and Quinton Larry (22:02) were 15th and 16th.

Also running for the JV were Ethan Mitchell (22:25), Kyle Williams (22:44), Andy Ginn (22:55), Cody Brown (23:07) and Tyler Usher (24:26).

GIRLS

The SSHS girls had two varsity and two JV participants. Senior Robin Grafton placed 33rd in a time of 14:42 on the two-mile course, and sophomore Cecily Adams was 41st in a time of 15:32.

Other varsity runners Kelsey Evans and Carli Junot were unavailable to run.

On JV, freshman Kaci Crowson was 22nd in a time of 16:55, and Kelly Horton placed 40th in 20:27.

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