CHAMPION COOGS

Cinco Ranch girls take 1st at Region III-6A meet to pace Katy ISD state qualifiers

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/10/20

Behind dominant performances from gifted athletes who will eventually stake claim as two of Katy ISD’s all-time best, Cinco Ranch’s girls cross country team won the Region III-6A cross country championship Tuesday afternoon at Kate Barr Ross Memorial Park in Huntsville.

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CHAMPION COOGS

Cinco Ranch girls take 1st at Region III-6A meet to pace Katy ISD state qualifiers

Posted

Behind dominant performances from gifted athletes who will eventually stake claim as two of Katy ISD’s all-time best, Cinco Ranch’s girls cross country team won the Region III-6A cross country championship Tuesday afternoon at Kate Barr Ross Memorial Park in Huntsville.

The top three teams and top 10 runners not on the top three teams advanced to the Class 6A state cross country meet on Nov. 24 at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.

The Cougars were 18 points better that second-place Kingwood as seniors Sophie Atkinson and Heidi Nielson finished first and second, respectively, in the three-mile race.

Atkinson, a Virginia commit, won with a time of 17:04.3. She has not lost a race this season.

“I wanted to use it as an opportunity before state,” Atkinson said. “I’m pleased with my effort, being a more difficult race because of the tough, rocky terrain with a steady incline for 800 meters. Three loops of that. I went out a little too fast, but I’m glad I learned that lesson that maybe that’s not the best strategy. It was definitely a learning lesson going into a bigger race.”

The Cinco Ranch team also includes junior Alison Mueller (18th, 19:25.0), sophomore Helen Ulrich (19th, 19:26.7), senior Camila Corser (32nd, 19:59.2), sophomore Lindsay Krippner (51st, 20:52.8) and junior Natalia Corser (85th, 22:06.5).

“This team has been really cohesive about helping each other be able to reach goals individually, so the team can prosper,” Cinco Ranch girls coach Dana Mathis said. “That might be the difference for us.”

Nielson, an Arkansas commit, finished second with a time of 17:41.1. Nielson missed the district, regional and state meets due to injury last season.

Nielson has five second-place finishes and a first-place finish in her six meets this season.

“It’s amazing how dominant they are,” Mathis said of Atkinson and Nielson. “You think back to when they were freshmen, young and tiny, and just beasts. They’ve continued to grow and work hard. They’ve never peaked through any of this. They’re dedicated to what they’re doing and super dedicated to their team.”

Individual girls state qualifiers from Katy ISD are Katy junior Isabella Rubio (third, 18:17.1), Tompkins senior Addison Stevenson (fourth, 18:32.8), Seven Lakes junior Katie Fitzpatrick (eighth, 18:47.9), Katy freshman Maddy Hunter (10th, 19:02.0) and Tompkins senior Hayden Gold (17th, 19:22.5).

Gold is the Tompkins girls program’s first four-time state qualifier.

“Hayden had an immediate impact on our team,” Tompkins girls coach Amy Pitzel said. “She finished her freshman year as our top runner at regionals and state. She was our No. 1 runner her sophomore year.

“She has incredible leg speed and has worked on adding strength and endurance by adding more mileage this year. She’s running her fastest as a senior.”

On the boys side, Tompkins’ finished third as a team. Atascocita won first with 60 points, followed by Strake Jesuit with 75.

Tompkins boys coach Walt Yarrow said there’s a different feeling this time around for his runners. More of a sense of urgency.

Because of the pandemic created by COVID-19, the UIL limited team qualifiers this postseason. Instead of three teams qualifying for regionals at the district meet, it was two. And instead of four teams qualifying for state at the regional meet, it was three.

“That’s the biggest factor,” Yarrow said. “You have to rev it up and be at your best. It’s a different animal. There was some cushion before. But we really have had to bring our best both meets, and it can be difficult to hold that intensity, keep the training load, the recovery … all that. It’s a slippery situation with fewer spots.”

Yarrow said his team didn’t run its best at regionals. The mindset has been to look at each meet as a stepping stone to state instead of the end-goal, he said. Instead of keying on district or regionals as their own entities, the big-picture goal is Round Rock.

Tompkins senior Gavin Saacke finished second with a time of 15:08.8. Senior Ben Smith (25th, 16:08.2), junior Noah Howard (27th, 16:14.4), junior Connor Augustine (28th, 16:14.8), junior Jackson Torti (38th, 16:30.0), junior Omar El Miloudi (47th, 16:40.4) and junior Colton Howard (124th, 18:53.2) round out the Falcons.

“Gavin ran well. He was going for the win, and I think it’ll fuel him for state,” Yarrow said. “Last year, he was sixth. This year, he’s second. It’ll give him some extra incentive. Jackson Torti ended up our fifth guy and he was really a game-changer. We had some challenges in our fifth-sixth-seventh runners. Torti had been our seventh runner at district and was our fifth at regionals. That was huge. He was a big reason why we were able to advance.”

Of Tompkins’ seven runners, four competed at state last year as sophomores. Saacke finished sixth overall as a junior.

“I feel like we have more to give, we have more to advance,” Yarrow said. “We have training progressions we’ll still do. Regionals was a step in the right direction.”

Individual boys state qualifiers from Katy ISD are Seven Lakes junior Ruben Rojas (fourth, 15:15.8), Cinco Ranch senior Ethan Boyd (eighth, 15:38.1) and Cinco Ranch sophomore Adrian Hahn Vadstein (11th, 15:55.7).

At the Region III-5A meet on Monday in Huntsville, Jordan High and Paetow were each represented on the girls side.

Jordan’s Addison Sutton finished 36th overall with a time of 21:29.6, closing an outstanding freshman campaign. Paetow senior Logan Warren finished 42nd with a time of 21:40.0 to end a standout career for the Panthers that helped establish a high standard for the program.

Jordan freshman Beatriz Laepple finished 58th with a time of 22:25.8. Laepple and Sutton provide a terrific 1-2 punch for the Warriors in the future.

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