The Decatur Lady Eagles’ bid for a third state title in four years fluttered away in the Central Texas wind Saturday afternoon.
But the Lady Eagles still found their way to the podium at the end of the day at the University Interscholastic League’s cross country championships, receiving the Class 3A third-place trophy in Round Rock.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s a big accomplishment,” said Decatur senior Bianca Morrison. “I know we did well, and I’m proud of all of us.”
For Morrison and two of the team’s other four seniors – Zuleima Palomo and Natalie Neighbors – it was a fourth trip to the podium. The three were also part of two state championship teams and the squad that finished second in 2010.
“Take a poll and try to find someone else that’s been on the podium all four years,” said Decatur coach David Park. “This is a tremendous group. They battled all the way.”
The Lady Eagles finished third with 131 points. Lucas Lovejoy claimed a second straight state title with 38. La Vernia took second with 67.
Liberty Hill’s Susan Kemper won the Class 3A race, running 11:42 on the 3,200-meter course. She finished 10 seconds in front of defending state champion Katie Ruhala of Lovejoy.
Decatur’s seven runners got a clean start, but through the pushing and shoving through the first 800 meters fell back to the middle of the pack. Nicole Neighbors was 17th through the first 800 meters, and her sister, Natalie, 24th.
“We got moved around a bit and separated,” Park said. “One minute we were really tight, and then we got beat up a bit. They kept fighting and running. I wouldn’t have expected less.”
By the 2,400-meters mark, Decatur’s two freshmen, Nicole Neighbors and Nancy Torres, were running stride for stride in the top 30.
Neighbors fought her way to a 27th-place finish in 12:47. Torres took 30th in 12:48.
“I wanted to be first for Decatur,” Neighbors said. “I’m happy we at least got a medal. I wanted to get something at state.”
In her final race, Morrison crossed the finish line in 13:10 for 46th.
“I used to love (running here),” Morrison said. “It was a lot warmer than all the other years, and the dust made me go blind. I felt slow.”
But Morrison made a strong charge in the final 800 meters to move into the top 50.
“I saw her on the levee and knew she was about to charge like she has in the other years,” Park said.
Morgan Haney ran 13:14 for 53rd. Natalie Neighbors was the fifth Lady Eagle, running 13:18 for 60th.
Bobbi Clemmer took 81st in 13:42, and Palomo 83rd in 13:49.
GIRLS CLASS 5A
1. Karis Jochen, A&M Consolidated…11:12
2. Courtney Kriegshauser, Carroll…11:23.5
3. Maddie McLellan, The Woodlands…11:23.7
16. Kellee McCann, 11:46; 17. Katherine Chavez, 11:47.38
CLASS 3A TEAM
2. La Vernia…67
1. Susan Kemper, Liberty Hill 11:43.27
2. Katie Ruhala, Lovejoy… 11:52.28
3. Olivia Hinojosa, La Vernia… 12:02.73
27. Nicole Neighbors, 12:47.46; 30. Nancy Torres, 12:48.36; 46. Bianca Morrison, 13:10.73; 53. Morgan Haney, 13:14; 60. Natalie Neighbors, 13:18.22; 81. Bobbi Clemmer, 13:42.34; 83. Zuleima Palomo, 13:49.87
CLASS 2A TEAM
3. East Bernard…111
1. Carley Glass, Luling…11:50.49
2. Rebecca Ulrich, Melissa…11:55.92
3. Payton Baker, Gunter…12:09.31
16. Lacey Watkins, 12:49.10; 32. Jordan Ward, 13:05.34; 41. Clara Breashears, 13:13.26; 49. Ariel Rogers, 13:20.85; 56. Chelsey Steele, 13:35.68; 70. Rebecca Evans, 13:50.89; 109. Madison Lynch, 15:51.45
BOYS CLASS 5A
1. Craig Nowak, Cypress Woods…15:16.05
2. Daniel Vertiz, SA Reagan…15:21.45
3. Kevyn Hoyos, Hebron…15:27.18
18. Troy Taylor, 16:17.30
CLASS 3A TEAM
3. Liberty Hill…97
4. Lufkin Hudson…105
1. Jeff Weisheit, Venus…15:54.23
2. Armando Fierro, Port Isabel…16:10.35
3. Bo Porter, Fredericksburg…16:10.8
42. Taylor Clayton, 17:25.1; 49. Daniel Smyers, 17:34.32; 50. Michael Smyers, 17:35.19; 62. Remington May, 17:47.08; 65. Travis Kyle, 17:50.06; 80. Tyler Wilson, 18:18.49; 85. Brandon Rivera, 18:32.6
CLASS A TEAM
1. Boys Ranch…72
2. Port Aransas…75
1. William Roberts, Sanderson…16:37.21
2. Andres Watson, San Perlita…16:45.44
3. Hunter Fair, Hawkins…16:46.22
72. Dylan Carnes, 19:38.94; 85. Cord Hankins, 20:08.97; 90. Jarrett Tinsman, 20:41.78; 93. Jessie Bowen, 20:48.5; 97. Luis Castillo, 20:55.19; 101. Daniel McCasland, 21:19.01