Powered by three top-10 finishers in the varsity boys’ race, the Sealy Tigers staked claim to the team championship at the Bellville Invitational Cross Country Meet at Bellville Golf Course for the second year in a row last Saturday morning.
Vladimir Hernandez (2), Xavier Olvera (6) and James Gassiott (9) all kept the team score low out of the gate before Daniel Medrano took 13th and Julius Aguilar finished 22nd to round the team total to just 52 points, 17 less than the host Brahmas.
For head coach Anthony Branch, it was just another day at the office for his squad.
“As far as the varsity boys, business as usual,” he said. “I was very pleased with what Vlad did, good time and picked up some single digits, then I had James Gassiott and Daniel Medrano, I thought the race was very big for Daniel because where he was last year and this year he stepped up and pretty much ran a PR for a 5K and he was up there the whole time with Xavier and James, Mr. Solid, Mr. Consistency.”
The junior varsity girls similarly took home the top spot from Bellville for a second consecutive year, helped along by having four top-10 finishers, and seven of the top-15, for a team score of 34, an 11-point advantage over second-place Caldwell.
Trinity Hall once again paced the Lady Tigers, grabbing second ahead of a trio of consecutive finishers; Rosa Alvarez and Jenna Forrester finished fifth and sixth, Hollie Brown and Hailey Artega took 10th and 11th and Hattie Schalla and Jada Burton scooped 14th and 15th.
Of course, there’s always a bit of extra incentive when the rivals are taking up spots on the rollcall and Branch added that was not put on the backburners leading up to the contest.
“Obviously here, Bellville is our big rival and it’s the same for them,” Branch said. “I would say we set the tone for the year going against them, going there and claiming the meet championship is something we talked about; ‘This is our opportunity to get a head up on Bellville because you got football that’s going to be playing them, baseball will play them, we’ll play them in basketball, they’ll all play each other and you always want to beat your rival.’”
Coming just shy of keeping the trend of back-to-back team titles were the junior-varsity boy runners, who ended up 29 points behind champion Stafford despite top-10 finishes from Daniel Eschenburg (5) and Rudy Nava (8).
Colby Eschenburg was next in 14th, then Cody Prause in 21st, Ike Konvicka in 27th, Swayeb Ahmed in 29th and Braden Ashorn grabbed 36 for a team total of 59.
Only two girls ran for Branch in the varsity race; Coral Becerra finished 28th and Madison Manak took 42 from a meet where the coach added if all goes according to plan, the wins will fall themselves.
“If we focused on what we needed to I knew we could do that, winning the meet is just a byproduct of the work we put in and we focus on ourselves for the most part and yeah anytime you go over there and run on a good course with a couple of challenges is good, it’ll be a good test for us this Saturday when we go to Brazos,” he said looking ahead to the 13th annual Brazos High School Invitational.