Regional Runners: Mannis dominates, as do NH boys

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

Oct. 25, 2007 - BIRTHRIGHT - The North Hopkins boys and girls will both be making a return trip to the regional cross country meet after a dominating performance by Jessi Mannis and the entire Panther team at the District 20-A meet on Wednesday.

Mannis won her eighth consecutive race, beating her closest competitor by 47 seconds to take the girls individual title. As a team, the Lady Panthers were edged 33-39 by McLeod. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in state by the TGCA.

In the boys race, North Hopkins' Jose Carden paced a 2-3-4-5 finish for the Panthers as they easily won the district title with 17 points. Avery finished second in the team standings with 53.

The top three teams and top 10 individuals qualified for the Class A, Region III meet on Nov. 3 at North Harris County College in Humble.

Mannis has qualified for the state meet her previous three years in high school, and she will be shooting for her ninth straight victory after winning district with a time of 12 minutes, 59 seconds over the two-mile course laid out on the NHISD campus.

She defeated runner-up Erika LaCroix of McLeod by 47 seconds. But, the Lady Longhorns were able to bunch enough girls near the front of the pack to edge out NH for the district title.

Cayla Newkirk finished sixth overall for the Lady Panthers in a time of 14:31, followed by teammates Blair Bassham in eighth (14:44), Brittany Whaley in 11th (14:56), Kaylea Flippen in 14th (15:07) and Laiken Gammill in 16th (15:13).

The runners had to buck a biting north wind that swept through the course.

Yantis had one runner, Veronica Vargas, who narrowly missed a regional berth, finishing 12th in 14:58.

The NH boys didn't have the individual champion, as McLeod's Douglas Autry won the 3.1-mile event in 16:53, but Carden, Brandon Joslin, Lorenzo Rivera and Dylan Horne finished in spots 2-5 and Paco Castro came in eighth as the Panthers ran away with the team championship.

North Hopkins, which finished third at state last year, will be trying for a return trip when they run at the regional meet.

Carden went out front with Autry at the beginning of the race, then held his position to finish 14 seconds behind the winner in 17:07, and over a minute ahead of third place. Joslin finished in 18:10, Rivera came in at 18:19, Horne at 18:22 and Castro in 18:54. Roger Sancho was 12th in 19:46, and Canyon Cockrum was 18th in a time of 20:19.

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