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Cross Country: Lady Eagles hope to move up medal stand

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, November 4, 2015
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In a fourth trip to Round Rock for the University Interscholastic League cross country championships, Decatur’s Jessica Kyle is hoping for a new color of medal.

The senior has collected a pair of team silver medals and a bronze. Kyle and the Lady Eagles will try to add gold to the collection Saturday morning in the 4A girls 3,200 race at Old Settlers Park.

“We’ve been wanting [the gold] for a while,” Kyle said. “Hopefully, we’re not cursed.”

Hitting the Road

HITTING THE ROAD – Wise County will be represented by 19 runners at the University Interscholastic League cross country championships Saturday in Round Rock. Teams and individuals from Decatur, Boyd, Bridgeport and Paradise will run in the meet. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Lady Eagles earned a trip back to Round Rock by taking third in the Class 4A Region I race.

The Lady Eagles did not express disappointment in the region finish.

“It’s just a step to get to state,” said Decatur sophomore Elizabeth Culpepper.

Kyle added: “We just wanted to get to state.”

Last year, Kyle paced the Lady Eagles, finishing second overall in 11:48. She was three seconds behind Morgan McCutchen of Levelland.

Kyle took fifth at regionals with McCutchen winning.

She said she feels like she’s running strong going into the state race.

The race will be the final cross country race for Kyle and three other seniors on the team – Georgina and Paola Palomo and Hope Fuller.

“It’s our last race with the whole team and we want to give in our all,” said Culpepper.

It will be Culpepper’s second state appearance. She finished 46th last year in 12:51.

THOUGHTFUL ADVICE

As one of the Paradise Lady Panthers’ two seniors, Aliyah Read has tried to guide along the team’s three talented freshmen.

Read, who will run at state for a fourth time in the 3A girls race, has given her teammates some advice heading into Saturday.

“I just told them to make it another race and do what you’ve been doing,” Read said. “You have to keep them confident.”

The Lady Panthers will be trying to move onto the medal stand after finishing fourth last year with 138 points.

Paradise finished fifth in 2013 and third in 2012.

“I feel very confident,” Read said. “This will be the best we’ve done. We can come out on top, if we perform that day.”

Read finished 54th last year in 13:12. Hannah Beth Pearson was 56th in 13:12 and Taylor Richards 57th also in 13:12.

That trio will be joined by three freshmen – Emerson Adams, Kaycee Martin and Madison Mitschke. Martin ran the team’s top time at regionals.

LOOKING FOR STRONG DEBUT

The Bridgeport Bulls’ trio of sophomores Eric Aguilar, Manuel and Salvador Garcia will run for the first time at the state championships Saturday.

The trio will hit the course at 10:10 a.m. for the 4A 5K.

“It’s exciting,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar finished 14th in the Class 4A Region I race in 16:24 to qualify for state as one of the top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team. Salvador Garcia took 16th in 16:29. Manuel Garcia was 20th in 16:34.

The three claim there are no extra nerves with this race.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” Manuel Garcia said.

PLEASANT SURPRISE

At the end of the Class 3A Region II boys race, Boyd’s Nathan Martinez thought his cross country career was over.

But fate would prove otherwise, when an individual qualifying runner from Keene pulled out of the state meet. With the 11th best regional time of 17:31 among individuals not on an advancing team, Martinez was given a spot at the starting line of Saturday’s race.

“This feels like I’ve won the lottery,” Martinez said. “What are the odds of that? I’ve never seen someone so lucky.”

Martinez is hoping to make the best of the opportunity and improve on last year’s state finish. He took 58th in 17:45 a year ago.

“I hope to get a medal,” he said. “It’s my last race as a senior in my last cross country season. It’s time to go all out.”

He will be joined on the course by Paradise senior Joseph Eisen, who earned a spot at state by finishing 16th in 17:20.

Eisen will be making his state debut.

“There’s no better way to end my career,” he said. “I hope to break into the 16s. It’ll be a lot different – a lot more nerves.”

2015 UIL CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Round Rock, Old Settlers Park

3A Girls 3,200, 8:30 a.m.
3A Boys 5K, 9 a.m.
4A Girls 3,200, 9:40 a.m.
4A Boys 5K, 10:10 a.m.

WISE STATE QUALIFIERS
4A GIRLS

Decatur: Taylor Butler, sophomore; Elizabeth Culpepper, sophomore; Hope Fuller, senior; Jessica Kyle, senior; Ana Martinez, junior; Georgina Palomo, senior; Paola Palomo, senior

4A BOYS

Bridgeport: Eric Aguilar, sophomore; Manuel Garcia, sophomore; Salvador Garcia, sophomore

3A GIRLS

Paradise: Emerson Adams, freshman; Kaycee Martin, freshman; Madison Mitschke, freshman; Hannah Beth Pearson, sophomore; Alexandria Pye, junior; Aliyah Read, senior; Taylor Richards, senior

3A BOYS

Boyd: Nathan Martinez, senior
Paradise: Joseph Eisen, senior

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