On Wednesday, the Glen Rose cross country program returned to competition at the Brock High School meet after a week off and encountered quite the challenge.
“I think this was one of the most competitive meets we’ve gone to,” said coach Sherre Hill. “There were a lot of quality teams. The times were better overall for our varsity girls; I thought they competed better this week. A lot of the girls were excited when they saw their times.
“We needed to improve, being two weeks away from district, and we did. We’ll need a couple of the girls to move up and reach their potential for district, so we have to work really hard.”
The Brock course wasn’t what the Tigers remembered.
“The course wasn’t easy and it had been changed for this year; we had to watch our footing because of some road ruts, but that’s part of cross country,” Hill said. “It wasn’t as tough as the Whitney course was, so the girls attacked it a little better.”
Makayla Kucera delivered her usual quality showing, finishing 13th out of 119 varsity runners and helping the Lady Tigers finish seventh as a team.
“Makayla is continuing to improve and gaining confidence with every race,” Hill said. “She wasn’t real happy with the 13th-place finish, but there were only high-quality runners ahead of her. Comanche’s team in particular was tough to go up against.
“She wants to peak at regionals, whereas last year she was just happy to get there. Makayla wants to be in the top three at district and that’s a very tough goal, but it’s attainable for her.”
Shilah McFadin (28th) and Aubrey Starnes (35th) both ran well.
“I thought Shilah battled through some health issues and I thought she did very well,” Hill said. “She was back to her normal self. Aubrey continued to improve and I saw her strength at the end of the race.”
Other varsity runners included Grace Payne (49th), Miranda Metker (58th), Claire Boswell (60th) and Madison Wooten (77th).
“Grace is steady and consistent like we need, but she’s going to work to try to keep moving up (in the lineup),” Hill said. “The varsity girls have set the goal of getting our team to regionals and that’s what they’re working toward.”
Among 118 JV runners, McKenzie Morrison (34th) and Ashlyn Reynolds (52nd) were the top Lady Tigers. The team finished in 10th place, and the competitive field actually contained some runners originally planning to run on varsity.
“On JV, I was really impressed with McKenzie Morrison,” Hill said. “She ran a good time at her first meet of the season; she wasn’t scared and she was excited with her finish. Ashlyn started (competing) a couple of weeks ago, and she also did a good job.
“They’re right there (in the varsity mix). We have several kids battling for that seventh spot, and they challenge each other every week. McKenzie showed in her first try that she’ll have a chance to be considered.”
Other JV Lady Tiger competitors included Jena Brannon (73rd), Samantha Willis (86th), Elizabeth Gosling (113th) and Merae Talavera (117th).
“Brock is always a tough meet for us,” said coach Rick Neill. “Stephenville has a deep, good team. There were a bunch of good small schools there; Keene was there and they’re loaded.”
The varsity Tigers finished in sixth place. Among a field of 57 runners, Taylor Hansen continued to be the top Tiger with a 27th-place finish.
“Taylor didn’t run as good of a time as he has (been),” Neill said. “He said he was tired afterwards, so we’ll give him a little rest (before our Monday meet) if he feels that’s the way to go.”
Other top Tigers were Lucas Gosling (28th) and Chris Harrison (35th).
“Lucas has been out for a few weeks, but he came back pretty strong with a good race,” Neill said. “Chris ran his best race of the year. He can still improve the middle part of his race, but Chris has a great future ahead of him. He’s only a freshman.”
Other varsity Tigers included Corbin Milton (44th), Marquis Holder (51st) and Jake Pieper (52nd).
Among the 129-man JV field, Justin Beeson did very well to finish 18th. Other JV competitors were Daniel Pena (104th) and Josh Beeson (115th).
“Justin had a great meet (Wednesday) – the best he’s had so far this year,” Neill said. “I will have to move him up next week and see how he does with the varsity in Priddy.”
As Neill mentioned, Glen Rose cross country will complete its regular season on Monday at the Priddy Invitational.
“As a team, we just need to come back strong next week,” the coach said. “We need a little momentum going into a really difficult district meet in two weeks.”