SPORTS HEADLINES

Lady Eagles soar into first, Sissies take third

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pushing On

PUSHING ON - Bridgeport's Lauren Hart fights through the course at Joe Wheeler Park Thursday to finish 19th and help the Sissies to third place and a regional bid. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur seniors Natalie Neighbors, Zuleima Palomo, Bianca Morrison and Veronica Torres made it a perfect 4-for-4 Thursday as the Lady Eagles captured the District 7-3A cross country title.

Decatur took three of the top five spots to win the program’s eighth straight league title with 26 points.

”We wanted to win, whatever it took,” said Natalie Neighbors, who finished second. “We’ve been together four years, and this is the end. This is our last chance to make a move.”

Sister Act

SISTER ACT - Decatur's Natalie and Nicole Neighbors stayed within two seconds of each other throughout Thursday's race, taking second and third to lead the Lady Eagles to an eighth straight district title. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Castleberry finished second with 51.

Bridgeport nabbed third with 81. The Sissies earned a bid with Decatur and Castleberry into the Class 3A Region I race in Lubbock Saturday Nov. 5.

“I’m so proud of them,” said Bridgeport coach Dayna Hudson. “We lost a runner last week and were scared about how we would make up those points.”

Castleberry’s Brittany Adams captured the individual title, running 11:59 on the 3,200-meter course at Decatur’s Joe Wheeler Park.

Natalie Neighbors was 10 seconds behind Adams, finishing in 12:09.

“I’ve never been second,” she said. “It’s really a great feeling.”

Natalie stayed a few steps ahead of her freshman sister, Nicole, throughout the course. The two crossed the mile at 5:50 and 5:52. They remained within two seconds of each other at 2,000 meters. Nicole finished third in 12:11.

“I wasn’t giving up,” Natalie said. “I had to change it up a bit.”

Nicole said it was a good strong race.

“We hit the mile fast, but not too fast,” she said. “We kept a good steady pace.”

Nancy Torres took fourth in 12:27. Palomo was seventh in 12:42.

“To have five in the 12s is good,” Palomo said. “It’s a great way to go out. It gives us motivation for regionals. We just want it to be a great senior year.”

Morgan Haney crossed the finish line as the Lady Eagles’ fifth runner in 10th in 12:59.

Morrison ran 13:15 for 14th, and Veronica Torres 13:32 for 18th.

“We ran real patient,” said Decatur coach David Park about his team. “We weren’t concerned about Brittany because she’s so good. We’re real excited about our times.”

Bridgeport’s Tiffany Hawkins posted an eighth-place finish, running 12:46 and qualifying for regionals as an individual.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Hawkins said. “I met my goals and couldn’t have asked for a better race.”

Diana Garcia took 15th in 13:16, Hayley Hooten 17th in 13:28, and Lauren Hart 19th in 13:37. Sabrina Garza was the Sissies’ fifth runner, finishing 22nd in 13:41.

Lauren Stowers took 28th in 13:58, and Lacey Erwin 35th in 14:19.

Hudson said she was proud of how her runners, who are involved in other activities that limit their mileage, competed.

“They don’t have as much stamina, but they are athletic,” Hudson said. “Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. They utilized theirs and passed people on the hills.”

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