Wearing their silver medallions after leaving the medal stand Saturday, Nicole Neighbors and Hayley Dennard flashed smiles.
“It felt good because we didn’t get third,” Neighbors said.
Dennard quickly added: “The past couple of years, we’ve got third. We just didn’t want to be third.”
After third-place finishes in 2011 and ’12, the Lady Eagles moved up one spot to second, scoring 91 points in the Class 3A race at the University Interscholastic League cross country championships at Round Rock’s Old Settlers Park.
“This is the best feeling in the world. We came down here and gave it our all,” Dennard said. “We all did good and what we needed to do.”
Led by overall champion Kelsie Warren, College Station captured the Class 3A crown with 58 points. Four College Station runners finished in the top 25.
“We got beat by a well-coached and talented team,” said Decatur coach David Park. “We ran great but just came up a little short. We’re thrilled to be on the medal stand.”
It’s the sixth straight time for the Lady Eagles to finish in the top three – the eighth time in the last nine years.
Warren breezed through the 3,200-meter course in 11:24.6. She finished 26 seconds ahead of second-place individual Emily Estrada of Clint Mountain View. Estrada stepped ahead of Argyle’s Laina Sorensen at the finish line to take the silver medal.
Warren had stretched her lead to more than 20 seconds after 2,500 meters.
Neighbors was in 10th place coming around the lake and entering the final 700 meters. She held on to the spot to earn an individual medal for a second straight year.
“I felt good. [The pace] was a lot quicker than last year,” Neighbors said.
Dennard finished 12th in 12:06.16. Jessica Kyle took 29th in 12:23.02. Paola Palomo came in 41st in 12:31.78. Morgan Haney crossed the finish line as Decatur’s fifth runner in 50th in 12:39.75.
Nancy Torres finished 53rd in 12:42, and Geogina Palomo 66th in 12:52.41.
“They all had to hit and all seven responded,” Park said.