SPORTS HEADLINES

Third place finish equals five years in winner’s circle

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For the Decatur Lady Eagles tradition, rolled on Saturday in Round Rock.

Even with only three runners returning from last year’s squad, the Lady Eagles made their way back to the podium for a fifth straight year.

Decatur brought home third place in Class 3A at the University Interscholastic League cross country championships with 91 points.

District 9-3A rival Sanger finished with 63 to win the state crown by a single point over LaVernia.

AGAINST THE WIND – Decatur’s Nicole Neighbors runs in the windy conditions Saturday at the state meet in Round Rock. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The bronze medal and seventh top-three finish for the Lady Eagles since 2004 were enough for Decatur coach David Park with a young group that included four freshmen.

“No one picked us to be on the medal stand,” Park said. “We got back to basics and did what we do. We wanted to stay tight and try to get everyone’s four and five runners. We did that. We ran as a team.”

Sophomore Nicole Neighbors led the team, nabbing a top-10 medal with a seventh-place finish. Neighbors finished the 3,200-meter course at Old Settlers Park in 12 minutes and 21 seconds.

Neighbors passed Sanger’s Bryce Perry and LaVernia’s Olivia Hinojosa at the finish line. She was focused on getting in front of Perry, who finished ninth.

“It was time to beat her,” Neighbors said. “I wanted to get in the top 10.”

The state medal for Neighbors comes after she missed the district meet with a pulled hamstring.

Neighbors said the whole team felt like they had something to prove at state.

“We wanted it,” she said. “They had us ranked seventh. But we knew we had just as good of a chance for first. I’m so proud of our freshmen. They did amazing.”

Sophomore Nancy Torres was the second Decatur runner across the finish line, in 22nd in 12:47. She improved eight spots from her freshman year.

Freshman Jessica Kyle finished one spot and one second behind Torres. Fellow freshman Georgina Palomo took 45th in 13:05, a spot and a second ahead of Paola Palomo.

Junior Morgan Haney finished 67th in 13:24, and Hope Fuller 69th in 13:25.

All seven Decatur runners will return next season to try for the program’s sixth straight medal.

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