THE WOODLANDS — Tompkins’ Cole Lindhorst reminded the field at the Nike South Invitational meet on Oct. 5 why he is one of the top distance talents to watch in the state, as he came in second and set a personal record of 15-minutes, 29.6-seconds, finishing a single stride behind Kingwood High’s Nick Majerus.
Lindhorst was only .4 behind Majerus despite an understandably uneven start to his season. The senior has been taking visits to college programs and working his way back into cross country racing shape after a long outdoor track season. The invitational was only his second meet of the season.
However, Tompkins coach Walt Yarrow said he was confident Lindhorst would continue to build on his success.
“Cole has been doing a lot of college visits and missing meets because of that, but that’s just the nature of having such success as a junior,” Yarrow said. “He’s still working his way into shape. You can be physically fit, but you still need to get into race shape, and that’s different than training. This is a good one for his confidence and where he is.”
This morning, we're at the Woodlands' Bear Branch Sports Fields for the Nike South Invitational. Strong start to the morning for Tompkins' Cole Lindhorst - 2nd in Elite race with a 15:29 (unofficial). pic.twitter.com/H9d6fSSFIB— Katy Times Sports (@KatyTimesSports) October 5, 2019
Joining Lindhorst in the top 10 was teammate and junior Gavin Saacke (seventh, 15:42.5). Tompkins took fourth overall in the 22-team meet with 174 points, behind The Woodlands (58), College Park (81) and El Paso Americas (106).
Rounding out Tompkins’ top five runners were Noah Howard (45th, 16:52.9), Ferdinand Hoven (59th, 17:04.9) and Aiden Ramshaw (82nd, 17:32.0).
“I’m super happy with what we did. In cross country, you ideally want to be running your best at the end,” Yarrow said. “We have a young team, and we also have a really good front-end with Cole and Gavin. Our results have kind of been all over the place, but I’m really happy with the fourth place we got today.”
Yarrow identified Seven Lakes and Cinco Ranch as the main competition for the Falcons at the upcoming district meet on Oct. 18. While Cinco Ranch didn’t place anyone in the top 10 at the invitational, the Cougars placed fifth overall with 219 points and their cumulative team time was about two minutes behind Tompkins.
“I think it’ll be a good battle and an exciting meet at district,” Yarrow said.
On the girls’ side of the invitational, it was another example of contrasting strengths among area teams, although the gap might be narrowing.
Cinco Ranch juniors Heidi Nielson and Sophie Atkinson took first and second, respectively, with times of 18:18.4 and 18:37.7, but the Cougars finished fourth as a team with 142 points.
Cinco Ranch coach Dana Mathis said she is continuing to stress finishing strong to her team, and noted that there has been improvement among the top five.
“You can race the whole race and not finish, and let someone go by you, and it just ruins your whole day,” she said. “Heidi and Sophie, they’re so fast. But when you get to the races, it’s not that you’re racing with them necessarily, you’re racing with everyone else.”
Nielson and Atkinson said they’re working with the team, and they also see the improvement.
“I don’t think it’s about talent, because all of our girls are talented,” Atkinson said. “It’s just about, every day, showing up and giving it your all. (Heidi and I) have each other, so during practices it’s easy for us to stick with one another, but we’re trying to encourage them that if you lose contact with us, don’t stop.”
The surprise of the district’s cross country scene this year has been the emergence of Tompkins junior Addison Stevenson. She finished fourth overall (18:58.4), with teammate and junior Hayden Gold taking fifth (19:06.2).
Another 1-2 finish for Nielson, Atkinson in the girls elite race. Tompkins takes 4th, 5th with Stevenson, Gold. pic.twitter.com/mGbTaSSlf8— Katy Times Sports (@KatyTimesSports) October 5, 2019
It is Stevenson’s first year running cross country, and Tompkins coach Amy Pitzel raved about how quickly she has taken to the sport.
On Sept. 28, Stevenson finished 16th in a field of 505 runners at the prestigious McNeil Invitational, with a personal record of 18:38.0.
“She’s a triple jumper in track,” Pitzel said. “She quit gymnastics and she was getting antsy, so she asked, ‘Hey, can I train with y’all during the summer?’ It’s amazing. It should not be physically possible, but she’s so good at it. There is a fearlessness to her.”
Stevenson said she is still learning how to pace herself, especially when it comes to finishing strong. Gold echoed her remarks and said it was a point of emphasis for her as well.
Tompkins took second overall at the meet with 88 points, behind Kingwood High’s 76 points. Also contributing to Tompkins’ finish were junior Katie Wiley (18th, 19:37.3), freshman Courtney Richman (31st, 20:07.0) and junior Laura Orgeron (38th, 20:17.0).