With three weeks left before district championships, Sealy head cross country coach Anthony Branch decided to host a tri-meet with Brazos and Needville Thursday morning at Sealy High School to fill a previously open week and give runners another opportunity to compete in a race instead of just practices.
Branch said he asked the team how they felt about the possibility of a meet and they were all on board with the chance to run again and fill the week in between their previous meets on Oct. 2 and 3 and before their next meet on Oct. 17 in Wallis.
“The whole point of this was to simulate what it will be like at district because at the races we run throughout the year, you have a lot of other people,” Branch said after the races. “I wanted them to understand that now it’s not so much about time, but it’s about the place. You can’t let a district team – who we know we’re going to be battling with – you have to make sure you beat them; you have to beat that individual runner.”
The Lady Tigers were able to do just that by using a late push to sweep the top four spots in the female varsity race to win the team competition.
“You could see at the start, we would get out and we were kind of in the back to the middle of the pack,” Branch said. “Like I tell them, ‘You don’t win the race in the first mile, but you sure as heck can lose it,’ and they stayed patient and those four girls ran a great race. The course was a little bit longer so essentially for two miles, the girls ran a PR. This was not an easy course with the hill so if it were a flat course, they probably would have easily broken 13.”
Freshman Bailey Lopez led the way ahead of classmates Annabelle Williams and Allyson Guerrero for the top three spots. Senior Madison Manak was right on their heels in fourth and was supplemented by sophomore Trinity Anderson in 10th and senior Coral Becerra in 12th. Hollie Brown rounded out Sealy’s point-scoring finishers with 16th place to keep the team score at 20 points.
The Tigers similarly had a good showing although Needville freshman Andrew Pollard took the top spot in the male varsity race to tie the team competition with the hosts.
“Our one, two and three were right there, they did their job but that Pollard kid is a good runner,” Branch said of the Needville underclassman. “We went two, three and four which is perfect. Essentially, we were ahead a couple of points on the boys going into our four and five and then (Needville’s) four and five ended up stepping in and they actually got six in there as well to displace some things.”
Juniors Daniel Medrano and Xavier Olvera, as well as freshman Fernando Garza, finished consecutively from second to fourth and sophomore Kevin Culp (13th) and junior Logan Eschenburg (14th) finished back-to-back. Seniors Cameron Eschenburg (20th) and Braden Ashorn (26th) rounded out the point scorers for the Sealy varsity squad to tie Needville with 36 team points.
Also running for the Tigers were junior Daniel Eschenburg (22nd), sophomore Colby Eschenburg (24th) and junior Ike Konvicka (29th) as overflow competitors outside of the top seven varsity runners.
Branch said he was pleased with the overall results and thought it was a good way to wind down the season.
“I think we’re ready for district, this last meet (at Brazos) will be a tune-up meet to get another run in and we’ll have a week of practice then district’s here,” Branch said. “I feel like we’re ready to go, it’s just a matter of improving just a little bit more at the end there to make sure we shore up those spots and not just for district but also for regional as well.”
The head coach sees strong postseason possibilities for both of this year’s teams and looked forward to getting it started with the District 24-4A Championship on Oct. 28 in Brookshire.
“I feel like if we do what we’re supposed to do, both teams have a chance to win a district championship,” Branch said. “I feel like we’re going to have a lot of them go and advance to regionals too so I think they understand what they’ve got and they’re pretty excited.”
The Region IV-4A Championship will be hosted in Huntsville on Nov. 10 before the Class 4A State Championship in Round Rock on Nov. 24.