Wilder, Henderson could be start of tradition at SB

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

Nov. 9, 2007 - SULPHUR BLUFF - Hopkins County has become a hotbed for high school distance running, and two new faces have emerged from the northeastern section of the county.

Sulphur Bluff junior Everett Wilder and sophomore Trey Henderson both qualified for the UIL State Cross Country Meet on Saturday in Round Rock. It is the first state meet for either of them, but they both expect to do well.

Wilder finished second at the Class A, Region III Meet, about 11 seconds behind North Hopkins' Jose Cadena, while Henderson placed seventh. They helped the Sulphur Bluff team to a fifth-place finish.

Now, the two Bears have set their focus on state.

Everett's goal is to run in the low-16s and win the individual championship, while Henderson wants to place in the top 10.

"Those are very realistic goals," said SB coach Charles Wright. "Both of them, the more experience they get, the better they'll run. This will be a totally new experience for them, so I'm not sure they know what to expect."

One thing Wright expects is for both of his runners to perform well, though they have different tactics.

Wilder goes straight to the front and tries to push the pace, while Henderson runs farther back in the pack and tries to make up ground with his kick.

"Everett's a very hard runner. He gets out front and really pushes the pace," Wright said. "He can endure more pain than any kid I've ever coached. When that pain comes on and there's a struggle to go a little faster that last mile, he can do it.

"Trey's still learning, and you can see the progress he's made since the first of the season until now. It's neat to watch them mature and grow."

They are Sulphur Bluff's first state qualifiers since 1999, and Wright believes that the pair are beginning a tradition that is catching on at the small school. He took 40 runners to the district meet and all but two of his varsity team members return next year.

Now, he wants the younger runners to latch onto some of the same traits as Wilder and Henderson.

"I think the key to their success is their own individual self-dedication, their own commitment. They don't need me there all the time pushing them," Wright explained. "The other key is that they started this summer, and the summer is the key to cross country. A lot of kids don't start running until school starts, and these two guys started in July, and so they had that base mileage down, ready to build on that. They didn't have that before."

Wilder said the pair use each other to get better. They also both count on their families for support..

"Training with Trey helps because we can push each other and help each other run faster," Wilder said.

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