The Race Is On: State berths at stake when cross country runners toe the line at regional meets tomorrow

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 2, 2007 - A four-hour drive south of here, Old Settlers Park in Round Rock has become an annual November meeting place for Hopkins County runners in recent years.

Tomorrow will determine how many will be there this season.

Round Rock is the site of the UIL State Cross Country Meet, and the outcome of tomorrow's regional meets will determine who will qualify for the trip to Old Settlers Park.

Teams from Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Bluff, Miller Grove, North Hopkins and Saltillo as well as individual runners from Como-Pickton will be competing tomorrow in regional meets in Arlington and Humble. The top three teams and top 10 individuals in each race qualify for the state meet, which is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10.

Sulphur Springs will be running at the Class 4A, Region II meet at Vandergriff Park in Arlington, while the other Hopkins County schools will be competing at North Harris County College in Humble in the Region III meet.

Several individuals and teams are used to running in Round Rock.

Como-Pickton senior Bethanie Stinson will be vying for her fourth consecutive trip to the state meet. She placed third last year at Round Rock in the Class 2A girls race.

Miller Grove senior Stormy Combs has gone to state the last two seasons, getting 14th last year in the Class A girls event.

North Hopkins runners are familiar with Round Rock, as senior Jessi Mannis - who has won eight consecutive races this year - is a three-time state qualifier. She was part of the state championship team from NH as a freshman and the runner-up team as a sophomore. Last year, North Hopkins placed fifth at state as a team and Mannis was sixth individually. Cayla Newkirk was also a member of that team and returns this year.

The North Hopkins boys will be trying to get back to state after placing third as a team last season. Jose Carden, the district runner-up, Lorenzo Rivera and Roger Sancho all return from last year's bronze medalist squad.

Sulphur Springs has sent a runner to state the last three years, and this season the Wildcats' best shot appears to be seniors Tate Ramirez and Tyler Wilson for the boys and Ana Sanchez for the girls.

Sulphur Bluff may also be getting to state, either individually or as a team. Everett Wilder and Trey Henderson have a solid chance to advance individually, and the Bears could sneak into the top three teams at Humble on Saturday.

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