9-4A Cross Country Meet: Lady Eagles continue reign

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 14, 2017
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Heading to the Finish

HEADING TO THE FINISH – Decatur’s Taylor Butler makes her way to the finish line with a second-place finish Wednesday. Decatur won the district team title. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur Lady Eagles entered the championship portion of the season as the top-ranked team in Class 4A.

In their first test on the path to state, the Lady Eagles proved worthy of the spot. Putting five runners in the top 11 at the 9-4A championships Wednesday at Joe Wheeler Park, the Lady Eagles won their fifth consecutive district title. The Lady Eagles have finished atop their league every year but one since 2004.

But the Lady Eagles are already looking ahead to the next step – the 4A Region II race at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie Oct. 23.

“We did good as a team. We’re definitely getting ready for regionals,” said Taylor Butler, who paced the Lady Eagles, finishing second on the 3,200-meter course in 12:25.

Decatur finished with just 28 points to best second-place Argyle by 33.

“We’ve run better of course,” said Decatur coach David Park. “But you get in this environment and it’s so competitive, you can get pulled out of your race. We did a good job of not doing that.”

Makenzie Fox took third in 12:32. Elizabeth Culpepper finished sixth in 12:45 and Kayla Leal eighth in 13:08. Audri Baber put the finishing touches on the title, crossing the finish line in 13:35 as the fifth Lady Eagle.

Emily Hubbard came in 21st in 14:03 and Vanessa Sanders 24th in 14:19.

“Makenzie looked like the Makenzie of last year,” Park said. “Elizabeth ran well and Kayla held on. I was really pleased with what I saw.”

Bridgeport narrowly missed out on a regional bid as a team, finishing fourth with 90 points. Sanger grabbed third with 61.

Marisol Fraga finished fourth in 12:36. Tariana Cervantes was 16th in 13:52, Karen Ibarra 22nd in 14:08, Breana Martinez 25th in 14:21 and Lexi Shield 27th in 14:26.

Leading the Pack

LEADING THE PACK – Bridgeport’s Manuel Garcia (302) leads a group through Joe Wheeler Park Wednedsay. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


Sanger’s Bryce Bassinger set an early torching pace Wednesday, daring anyone else to try to stick with him around Joe Wheeler Park. No one could.

Bassinger cruised to victory in the 9-4A boys 5K in 16:27. He finished 20 seconds ahead of Bridgeport’s Manuel Garcia in second.

“The past few races, I’ve gone out with the big boys and ran a quick 400,” Bassinger said. “My conclusion is if you start out up at the front, if a few pass you, you’re in good shape.”

Bassinger blew through the first mile in 4:57, leading Decatur’s Alan Rangel by five seconds. He increased his lead to 10 seconds by the second-mile mark.

In the final mile, Garcia picked up his pace and passed Rangel. He held off a challenge from Decatur’s Tristan Read before taking off and finishing second.

“I knew I couldn’t let [Read] pass me,” Garcia said. “The last back part is where I had to go. I knew I couldn’t wait until the end. That’s where I caught Alan.”

“At first, the pace was fast. I knew I had to do my race so I didn’t die out.”

Read overtook Rangel in the final stretch to finish third in 16:33.

“I was trying to stay with Manuel and was pushing through it. I tried to keep my pace going and speed up through the woods,” Read said.

He added that it helped him running on fresh legs and not practicing basketball while also racing.

“It’s a big difference. Going from basketball to cross country, I’m usually pretty sore,” Read said. “Running with fresh legs felt good.”

Rangel, who has been battling some hip flexor issues, took fourth in 16:34. He received treatment after the race. He hoped to be feeling better by the 4A Region II race Oct. 23 at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie.

“The second mile, I felt good and then up the second hill I felt a sharp pain in my hip flexor,” Rangel said.

Bridgeport’s Eric Aguilar turned in his best performance of the season, finishing fifth in 16:50.

“This is what I was hoping for. I’m been slowly improving and hoped to show up this meet,” said Aguilar, a star on last year’s state runnerup soccer team. “I was never nervous since I played in the state soccer final. This was my last district race. I knew I had to push myself.”


Going into a district meet with three teams ranked in the top 10, the Decatur Eagles knew they needed to put their best foot forward.

The Eagles proved up to the challenge with four runners in the top 10 and the fifth runner, Matthew Ashmore, crossing the finish line in 13th to secure the 9-4A title.

Decatur claimed its fourth straight crown with 32 points. Sanger took second with 56 and Bridgeport third with 58.

“This is a big accomplishment and a big confidence booster,” said Triston Read, who finished third in 16:33. “This is great moving forward. We have to keep working hard. Our goal is state.”

Decatur, Sanger and Bridgeport move on to the Region II championships at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie Oct. 23.

With Sanger’s Bryson Bassinger establishing a fast pace from the opening gun, Decatur’s lead pack of Alan Rangel, Read, Gabriel Embree and Sergio Sanchez settled in and maintained their spots in the top 10.

“The boys did a good job of staying composed,” said Decatur coach David Park. “Gabe packed them up.”

Embree finished sixth in 16:52, one spot and four seconds in front of teammate Sergio Sanchez.

Ashmore crossed the finish line in 17:07 to put the exclamation point on the Decatur victory.

Bridgeport put two runners in the top five with Manuel Garcia finishing second and Eric Aguilar fifth. Salvador Garcia took 11th in 17:03. Rigo Alvarez was 18th in 17:39 and Javier Huerta 22nd in 18:13. Nathaniel Phillips finished 23rd in 18:18 and Jose Huerta 27th in 19:02.


Two weeks ago, Decatur’s Taylor Butler blasted past Argyle’s Lanie Rodgers in the final mile on the way to winning the Reunion Run at Joe Wheeler Park.

Wednesday on the same course with the 9-4A title on the line, Rodgers never gave anyone a chance to challenge her. She took an early lead and continued to pull away from the field in winning the 3,200-meter event in 11:51. Butler took second in 12:25.

“I learned to prepare better for the race. Two weeks ago, I was not prepared. I didn’t get enough sleep or eat right,” Rodgers said.

“I knew if I beat everyone in the beginning, I could get a good gap and had to keep it up. I knew she had a good kick.”

It was Rodgers’ second straight district title.

Rodgers built a 20-second advantage by the mile split, running a 5:37. The lead was at 24 seconds at the 2,400 mark.

Butler finished 24 seconds off the time she ran at the Reunion Run.

“I felt 20 seconds slower,” Butler said. “It was a fast pace and I tried to stay up with her early. I gave it all that I had. I have to train harder for regionals. I’ll try to get her there.”

Makenzie Fox ran a patient race and made a strong kick over the final half mile to take third in 12:32.

“I was dying [at the end] but I told myself that I have to do this. I was thinking about my team,” Fox said.

Bridgeport’s Marisol Fraga finished fourth in 12:36 to earn a regional spot. Fraga stayed with Butler through the first mile before falling off the pace by a few seconds at the 2,400 mark.

Decatur’s Elizabeth Culpepper grabbed sixth in 12:45 and Kayla Leal eighth in 13:08.



Team: 1. Decatur 28, 2. Argyle 61, 3. Sanger 61, 4. Bridgeport 90, 5. Krum 132, 6. Gainesville 160


1. Lanie Rodgers, Argyle … 11:51
2. Taylor Butler, Decatur … 12:25
3. Makenzie Fox, Decatur … 12:32
4. Marisol Fraga, Bridgeport … 12:36
5. Johanna Drews, Krum … 12:40
6. Elizabeth Culpepper, Decatur … 12:45
7. Sophie Knautz, Lebanon Trail … 12:57
8. Kayla Leal, Decatur … 13:08
9. Jennifer Sanches, Sanger … 13:31
10. Gabriela Luna, Sanger … 13:34

Decatur individuals: 11. Audri Baber, 13:35; 21. Emily Hubbard, 14:03; 24. Vanessa Sanders, 14:19

Bridgeport individuals: 16. Tariana Cervantes, 13:52; 22. Karen Ibarra, 14:08; 25. Breana Martinez, 14:21; 27. Lexi Shield, 14:26; 28. Kristen Grooms, 14:29; 30. Yadira Cervantez, 14:43


Team: 1. Decatur 32, 2. Sanger 56, 3. Bridgeport 58, 4. Argyle 103, 5. Gainesville 137, 6. Krum 168


1. Bryson Bassinger, Sanger … 16:07
2. Manuel Garcia, Bridgeport … 16:27
3. Triston Read, Decatur … 16:33
4. Alan Rangel, Decatur … 16:34
5. Eric Aguilar, Bridgeport … 16:50
6. Gabriel Embree, Decatur … 16:52
7. Sergio Sanchez, Decatur … 16:56
8. Keagan Hoskins, Sanger … 16:57
9. Alfonso Barraza, Argyle … 17:00
10. Alberto Barraza, Argyle … 17:03

Decatur individuals: 13. Matthew Ashmore, 17:07; 12. Christian Isaac, 17:07; 15. Charles Doubrava, 17:27

Bridgeport individuals: 11. Salvador Garcia, 17:03; 18. Rigo Alvarez, 17:39; 22. Javier Huerta, 18:13; 23. Nathaniel Phillips, 18:18; 27. Jose Huerta, 19:02

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