Wildcats pushing each other to improve times

From Staff Reports

Oct. 1, 2007 - WYLIE - Faced with the reality that two of their top runners are unavailable due to injury this season, the rest of the Sulphur Springs cross country team faced two choices - feel sorry for themselves or work harder.

They chose the latter.

The Wildcats improved their times across the board on Saturday, placing fifth as a team at the Wylie Invitational.

Senior Tyler Wilson dropped his time by 24 seconds from last week, running the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 46 seconds, good enough for an 11th-place finish in the Class 5A-4A division.

Wilson's cousin, Tate Ramirez, is out for likely the entire season with a stress fracture, joining junior Dylan Rutherford (foot surgery) as being unable to run. Those two, along with Wilson, made up half of last year's district championship team.

This season, the Wildcats are relying on a group of youngsters to accompany Wilson in the chase for another 11-4A title.

Sophomore Preston Weaver set a new personal best with a time of 17:31, and he was followed by a group of four teammates, who all finished within 19 seconds of one another. Freshman Jared Morgan ran a 17:50, junior Omar Ortiz came in at 17:52, junior Ross Hicks was right behind at 17:54, sophomore Andrew Wallace finished in 18:09, and junior Garrett Gray ran the course in 18:28.

SSHS head coach Andy Holt said the runners are competing amongst themselves to get better.

"Guys are doing a good job of running together and pushing each other, and they're starting to get faster," Holt explained. "That's what we talked about at the first of the season, and that's exactly what is happening. Those guys are pushing each other, encouraging each other and challenging each other, and that's good to see.

"Tyler is challenging himself. He wants to get down in the 16:30s and see if he has a shot to get out of region. Preston Weaver has kind of separated himself from the rest of the group. Hopefully, the group will catch him and push Preston to go even lower."

He had hoped the younger runners would be running in the high-17s or low-18s by the end of the season. With three weeks to go until the district meet (Oct. 22 in Mount Pleasant), they are already there.

"Now, we really have to have guys step up and go above and beyond what was expected of them, and I think they're doing that," Holt said. "I'm encouraged by that, and I'm encouraged by the fact they can run faster. Hopefully, they'll be low-17s by the end of the year, and that would be very nice because they're all young guys."

Holt was also encouraged by senior Ana Sanchez, who led the Lady Cats once again. Sanchez, running cross country for the first time, eclipsed her personal best time by 13 seconds when she finished the two-mile course on Saturday in 13:32.

"We would like to get her down in the 12s," Holt explained. "I think she can run down there. When gets a couple of more meets in, and gets a few more weeks of work in, I think she can do that."

If that happens, she would likely challenge for one of the top five spots at district.

Freshman Julie Hromcik finished the race in 15:18, cutting almost a full minute off her time from last week, and fellow freshman Samantha Owens also cut substantial time off her race (16:20). Sophomore Brittney Woolley finished in 17:00, and sophomore Kaci Crowson had to withdraw from the race halfway through because of a nose bleed.

In the junior varsity division, the Wildcats had three runners place in the top 15 as Chris White ran an 18:20 to get fifth, Tristan Crook finished eighth in 18:39, and Bailey Booher was 15th in 19:04.

Victory Gonzalez (19:18) and Tanner Bolton (19:53) both ran under 20 minutes as well. Others running for the Wildcats were Tyler Usher, Cody Brown, Pablo Olquin, Andy Ginn and Drew Hanna.

The Wildcats will run on Friday this week, as they travel to Lindale. Start time is 9 a.m.

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