Building off successes at previous meets, Seven Lakes’ boys cross country won the Class 6A boys team title at the UIL Region III cross country championships on Monday, Oct. 28, at Kate Barr-Ross Park. On the girls side, Tompkins junior Addison Stevenson continued her rapid ascent in the sport with a silver medal, leading the Falcons to a second-place finish in the team results.
HUNTSVILLE — Building off successes at previous meets, Seven Lakes’ boys cross country won the Class 6A boys team title at the UIL Region III cross country championships on Monday, Oct. 28, at Kate Barr-Ross Park. On the girls side, Tompkins junior Addison Stevenson continued her rapid ascent in the sport with a silver medal, leading the Falcons to a second-place finish in the team results.
Other teams and runners that qualified for state from Katy ISD hailed from Cinco Ranch and Katy High. The top four teams and the top 10 individuals not on those teams qualified for state.
The state meet takes place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
Seven Lakes boys coach Scott Kenney said the team was happy with the championship win but didn’t view it as an endpoint to the season.
“The goal for them has been to be a podium (top three) team, and to elevate to that level,” he said. “I think we’re really happy with where we are, but I think we’re also not, like, ‘This is it, we’re done, let’s relax.’ We’ve got work to do over the next two weeks.”
The Spartans’ top five consisted of senior Carson Slater (fifth, 16:08.1), senior Corbin Brescher (eighth, 16:15.5), senior Spencer Seale (12th, 16:22.9), sophomore Ruben Rojas (28th, 16:58.0) and junior Fernando Hernandez (38th, 17:07.2).
“I told the guys after the district week, it’s not about doing more, it’s about doing the things we need to do better, and that’s the main focus continuing to move ahead the next two weeks,” Kenney said. “We’re going to continue to work ahead to make sure we come together and take care of each other.”
Seven Lakes finished with 89 points, edging out Tompkins. The Falcons took second place with 120 points.
While Seven Lakes won the meet, Tompkins had the top individual boys runner from the Katy area. That’s been true for most of the season, but the identity of the runner at the regional meet, junior Gavin Saacke, was different than at previous meets, when senior Cole Lindhorst typically took top honors.
At the regional meet, Saacke finished third with a time of 15:47.4. Lindhorst was in ninth place, running 16:16.5, about 45 seconds slower than his previous two races. Tompkins boys coach Walt Yarrow attributed the finish to Lindhorst putting pressure on himself to excel, but noted that he fought through to finish strong for the team.
Yarrow said the performance of Saacke was evidence of his hard work paying off.
“As we led up to district, he’s had great workouts,” Yarrow said. “Gavin is a fighter and he’s a competitive kid. I’m super proud of him, and it’s a breakout for him. He’s one of the top guys in the state and he’s got a chance at top 10.”
Going forward, Yarrow said he hoped to tighten up the finishes of the team’s fifth, sixth and seventh runners. Through four runners, Tompkins only trailed Seven Lakes by five points, but the deficit swelled to 31 points after five runners.
The Cinco Ranch boys team will still send two runners to the state meet. Senior Sam Flusche finished in 10th place (16:18.7), and junior Ethan Boyd (15th, 16:26.7) qualified because several runners in the top 10 earned placements via their teams.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet day, because I was hoping our whole team would be able to be there with us, but I’m pretty proud of us, too,” Flusche said.
“We worked to get here, so it’s definitely an accomplishment,” Boyd said, noting that it would be the first time at state for both. “I’ve never been there myself, so I’m excited.”
On the girls side, Stevenson continued her meteoric rise up the cross country leaderboard. While the rugged, hilly course didn’t offer her the opportunity to set a personal record, her second-place time of 18:55.5 was a 26-second improvement from the Region III preview meet at the same venue on Sept. 7.
This is the first year of cross country for the junior, who said the presence of better runners in the elite races tends to help pace herself. She also said having a full team to support her at meets has helped compensate for her inexperience.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to run for the team,” she said. “I just wanted some training and something to do. But now it’s becoming one of my favorite things ever.”
Tompkins finished second overall with 82 points, behind Kingwood’s 42 points. Seven Lakes finished third with 123 points, also securing a spot at the state meet along with the Falcons.
In addition to Stevenson, junior Hayden Gold finished in the top 10 for Tompkins, earning seventh (19:12.2). Rounding out the top five for the Falcons were junior Katie Wiley (24th, 20:02.4), freshman Courtney Richman (26th, 20:04.0) and junior Laura Orgeron (30th, 20:21.5).
Tompkins girls coach Amy Pitzel said that if the team had a similar effort at the state meet, she would be happy, and noted that Stevenson and Gold give them a dynamic they didn’t have in the past.
“The last two years, we didn’t have any girls in the top 10. We just ran really strong as a group,” she said. “Today, we had two in the top 10, so that’s going to help us when we go to the next level because it’s a bigger race. I don’t want to set any clear goals, but we haven’t placed in the top 10 yet and we’d love to do that as a team.”
Seven Lakes girls coach David Pollack said that coming in, they viewed themselves as one of the four or five teams with a shot to win the meet.
“In a way, I’m a little disappointed, but when you lose to Kingwood and you lose to Tompkins, it’s an acceptable loss,” he said. “This is something we’ve been working on since the last time we advanced to state, which was 2016, and for this group of seniors to have been there as freshmen and to recapture the magic and move on, I couldn’t be more excited for them.”
The Spartans’ top five consisted of sophomore Katie Fitzpatrick (14th, 19:32.2), senior Rosie Campbell-Watt (22nd, 19:58.2), freshman Grace Havern (23rd, 19:59.3), junior Sarah Zdansky (36th, 20:29.7) and junior Giana Mannone (37th, 20:39.3).
Cinco Ranch junior Sophie Atkinson, competing as an individual, placed third at the meet with a time of 19:02.5. However, she wasn’t happy with that placement or how she ran.
“I feel like I’ve still been training hard, so that’s not helping with how I’m feeling, but I feel like it might just have been a bad day,” she said. “I just have to come up with a plan that’ll fit best for me and give me the best chance. I just have to throw this away and focus on the next race.”
Katy sophomore Isabella Rubio qualified as an individual with a ninth-place finish of 19:21.5.
“I’m excited and also a little shocked, because it was a tough race, but I’m glad I got through it,” she said. “At state, my goal is just to run my hardest to represent my team, and just trying to place the highest that I can.”
In the Class 5A races, the Paetow boys finished in 15th place with 362 points. Junior Samuel Hinojosa was the top finisher, in 51st place with a time of 17:58.9.
It was Paetow’s first regional cross country appearance.
“As a team, as a whole, we did pretty good,” Hinojosa said. “I know every single one of us left everything out there. Going home, we won’t have any regrets.”
Paetow junior Logan Warren, competing in her first regional meet as an individual, finished in 48th place with a time of 21:40.0.
“I was really nervous in the beginning, and the course was kind of hard for me,” she said. “Usually, I’m further ahead anyway, but it takes some getting used to at the line, because I didn’t have my team with me.”