Seven Lakes High School, Spartans, Cinco Ranch High School, Cougars, Tompkins High School, Falcons, Katy High School, Tigers, cross country, Katy ISD

Seven Lakes boys, girls sweep 19-6A team titles

By STEPHEN GREENWELL, Times Correspondent
Posted 10/19/19

While Tompkins senior Cole Lindhorst and Cinco Ranch junior Sophie Atkinson continued to build on their stellar individual seasons, it was the depth of the Seven Lakes’ boys and girls cross country teams that was on display at the District 19-6A meet Oct. 18 at Bear Creek Park, as the Spartans won both of the team divisions.

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Seven Lakes High School, Spartans, Cinco Ranch High School, Cougars, Tompkins High School, Falcons, Katy High School, Tigers, cross country, Katy ISD

Seven Lakes boys, girls sweep 19-6A team titles

Posted

While Tompkins senior Cole Lindhorst and Cinco Ranch junior Sophie Atkinson continued to build on their stellar individual seasons, it was the depth of the Seven Lakes’ boys and girls cross country teams that was on display at the District 19-6A meet Oct. 18 at Bear Creek Park, as the Spartans won both of the team divisions.

On the boys side, Seven Lakes held off Tompkins, scoring 34 points to the Falcons’ 38, with Cinco Ranch taking third with 63 points. For the girls’ side, Seven Lakes again edged out Tompkins, with 40 points to the Falcons’ 45. Katy High finished in third place with 59 points.

The top three squads secured a spot at the UIL Class 6A Region 3 meet on Oct. 28 at Kate-Barr Ross Park in Huntsville, along with the top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team.

Seven Lakes boys coach Scott Kenney said the depth of his team once again proved pivotal, which is something they emphasize strongly during meetings and practices.

Lindhorst, a recent Air Force verbal commit, and fellow Tompkins senior Gavin Saacke finished 1-2, nearly 20 seconds ahead of the pack, but Seven Lakes took spots three through six.

“I always say to them, ‘Distance relationships don’t usually work out,’” Kenney said, laughing. “So the farther away you are from your teammates, physically, that creates gaps in our team. So let’s do our warm-up drills together, and I try to put them in similar groups.”

That cohesiveness showed in the narrow time spread between the Spartans’ top four runners: senior Carson Slater (third, 15:50.06), sophomore Ruben Rojas (15:50.94), senior Spencer Seale (fifth, 15:54.49) and senior Corbin Brescher (sixth, 15:55.52). Kenney said that going forward, the key would be to narrow the gap between that four and the next three—junior Javier Pineros (16th, 16:40.58), junior Fernando Hernandez (18th, 16:48.96) and senior Juan Royo (19th, 16:54.53).

“What can happen with the fifth, sixth, seventh runner, that’s going to be a big difference maker and it has all year long,” Kenney said. “I’m hoping that over the next week, we can continue to progress in a positive direction. We need to work, though. We can’t lay off.”

Lindhorst won the meet with a time of 15:31.22, with Saacke slightly behind him at 15:33.99. However, Lindhorst said they were holding back a bit, knowing that they both still had tough races to run at regional and state.

“We got a gap and just worked off each other, and then finished hard, but I think both of us are taking it pretty conservative,” Lindhorst said. “I think both of us, we were talking during the race, so we took it a little conservative and easy, which was what we wanted to do. We got the job done and it’s on to the next one.”

On the girls’ side, Seven Lakes girls coach David Pollack laughed when asked about his team’s success.

“Relief. That’s the number one thing I’m feeling is relief,” he said. “Our seniors really fought so hard over the last four years. In 2016, we won with a really deep senior crew, but the last few years we’ve struggled with depth. This year, we had a lot of kids returning and we had an influx of 30 freshmen, and that really helped flesh out the rest of the team.”

The top five for the Spartans consisted of sophomore Katie Fitzpatrick (fifth, 18:39.76), senior Molly Humes (seventh, 19:08.57), freshman Grace Havern (eighth, 19:14.39), senior Ana Velazquez (ninth, 19:17.86) and senior Rose Campbell-Watt (11th, 19:27.72). Pollack identified Humes as not just one of their stellar individual talents, but also a vocal leader for the rest of the team.

“Last year, Molly made it to state and her biggest thing was, ‘Next year, I want to be here with the team, not by myself,’” he said. “And she has been leading this group, saying, ‘We need to get back. It has to be us, not just me.’ It looks like we’re on the right path, so hopefully we’ll do well at regionals and be back at state.”

Atkinson won with a time of 18:04.45, a season-best for her and a 16-second improvement on her mark from 2018. Still, Atkinson said she could be better.

“It feels good,” Atkinson said. “I’m a little disappointed with my time, I feel like I’m better than that, but it feels nice to win.”

Mathis added: “She’s about six seconds off the time she wants to be, but that continues to push her to more heights. I think by the time we get to regionals and state, she’ll be running exactly how she wants to be. I’m super proud of her, for sure.”

The win was also bittersweet for Atkinson because the Cougars finished outside of the top three as a team, and because she wasn’t able to compete against her teammate, junior Heidi Nielson, the meet’s 2018 winner.

Nielson and Atkinson finished 1-2 in races leading up to district meet, but Mathis confirmed that Nielson’s season was over with a stress reaction in her hip.

“It’s definitely heart-breaking to see it happen like this, because we’ve been working so hard since the summer,” Atkinson said. “But we’re all returning. We’ll just have to come back stronger next year and use this as motivation. I don’t think this should be happening to our team. We have a really strong group of runners that are really state-material.”

Without Nielson, Atkinson’s biggest challenger in-district will be Tompkins junior Addison Stevenson. She continued her meteoric rise with a second-place finish, running an 18:10.32 that shaved 28 seconds off her previous personal best. It’s the first year in cross country for Stevenson, who has a background in gymnastics and doing the triple jump in track and field.

“I felt like I was still racing that last mile instead of just trying to finish,” Stevenson said. “It’s still like, every time I say this, but I want to go faster at the end. As soon as I finish, I feel fine so I think I can hold it even longer.”

She noted that going forward, she wanted to maintain her current routine and to push herself based on other runners.

“Some of it is superstitious, but it really helps,” she said of her routine. “Like for dinner, I eat French toast, and just things like that. It really puts me in the right mental state for today … I think I just need to focus on staying with whoever’s in front of me. The whole time in my head, I was just thinking, ‘I need to make the gap smaller.’ I need to do that the whole time.”

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