Cross Country: Yellowjackets turn in dominant performance

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 14, 2017
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Pulling Away

PULLING AWAY – Boyd’s Connor Richardson runs away from Paradise’s Matthew Eisen during the 8-3A championship 5K Thursday. Richardson won the race and the Yellowackets captured the team title. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Connor Richardson stood on the side of the track Thursday morning, watching and cheering as teammate Blake Rodgers made a sprint down the final 100 meters, picking off a pair of competitors.

When Rodgers crossed the finish line in eighth place, he capped a dominating performance by the Yellowjackets at the 8-3A championships at Boyd High School.

With five runners in the top eight, Boyd finished with just 20 points, beating second-place Paradise by 43.

“We stepped up big time,” Richardson said. “It was awesome to see my teammates run as well as they did. We’ve been working hard. What’s coming up [regionals], is what we’ve been worried about all year. This year is not going to end like last year.”

Boyd and Paradise will advance to the Region I championships at Lubbock’s Mae Simmons Park Oct. 23.

“The guys have got their eyes on the big picture,” said Boyd coach Oscar Hernandez. “They want to get out of Lubbock. I feel we’re about to peak. Blake ran his best time today. I’m proud of everyone.”

The title is Boyd’s first since 2014.

Running on his home course, Richardson established the lead after the first 400. Making his way through the first mile, he had Paradise’s Matthew Eisen stalking him. Richardson then pulled away in the second mile. By the 4K point, Richardson established an 11 second lead over teammate Tristan Lemasters. Richardson went on to win by 10 seconds, finishing the 5K in 17:17.

“The first mile, they were trying to hang with me,” Richardson said. “I thought [Eisen] would stick with me the whole way. The second mile as we got into the hilly area, I could tell my training came into play.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment a long time. This feels good.”

Lemasters yelled ahead to Richardson shortly after the 800-meter mark to “trap” Eisen with the pace. It seemed to work as Lemasters found his way into second by the 4K spot. He finished second in 17:27.

“I was telling the guys to be patient and don’t worry about anyone else,” Lemasters said. “We were all feeling good. We’ve practiced hard the last few weeks and it paid off a lot.”

Eisen held off a hard-charging Manny Garcia of Boyd to finish third in 17:35.

“Coach [Ken] Thompson told me to stay with Richardson as long as I could,” Eisen said. “Tristan passed me on the back portion.

“I feel good going to regionals. I should be right on the bubble for state. If I can put up a good meet, I can maybe get out.”

Boyd’s Gauge Fahlin took fifth in 17:52 and Rodgers eighth in 18:36.

Paradise’s Kobe Wakefield garnered ninth in 18:37. Justin Culp took 14th in 19:13, Jacoby Isaacs 15th in 19:15 and Ryan Austin 22nd in 19:52.

“We ran great today,” Thompson said. “Everyone did their jobs. We’ve ran consistently all year. This is a good time to be peaking and I feel that we are.”

Smiles for Miles

SMILES FOR MILES – Boyd’s Carrie Schwartz turns a corner early in the 3,200 Thursday. She finished fifth. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


For a second straight year, Leah Bullinger cruised around the course at Boyd High School to capture an 8-3A title.

The Holliday runner finished the 3,200-meter course in 12:21 to bring home the individual title by 12 seconds over Paradise’s Kaycee Martin.

“I’ve ran the course many times and knew the course. I knew I needed to stick to the inside on the curves to keep anyone from passing,” Bullinger said.

“My dad is really into cross country and track. He’s like a second coach. We go over the race the night before and work on a strategy.”

Bullinger resisted the temptation to sprint out with the early leaders and then gradually took control after the first 400 meters. By 2,400 meters, she owned a four-second advantage over Martin.

“I always ignore the girls that start out fast and just try to keep my own pace,” Bullinger said. “Since it’s district, everyone has a lot of adrenaline.

“I didn’t expect Kaycee to be that close. I surged the last 500 to 600 meters.”

Martin finished in 12:33 to bring home second.

“I was trying to stay behind her. She’s really fast,” Martin said. “I wanted to try to catch her at the end.”

Martin helped the Lady Panthers to a second-place team finish and a regional bid. Paradise garnered 63 points, finishing 18 behind Holliday.

“We’ve all been working hard. That hard work is paying off for us,” Martin said.

Paradise had three runners in the top 10. Hannah Beth Pearson took fourth in 12:39.

“It was tough. We had some tough competition that we didn’t know about,” Pearson said.

Maddie Mitschke finished seventh in 13:05. Christy Sinclair garnered 26th in 14:15 and Rose Powers 28th in 14:31 as Paradise’s fifth runner.

“It’s good to get out. It’s been a tough season with injuries and everything,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “They all ran great. Everyone had to run well. I can’t wait to work out next week.”

Boyd’s Carrie Schwartz will join Paradise in the 3A Region I race Oct. 23 in Lubbock. Schwartz finished fifth in 12:48.

She stayed in the top five the entire race.

“Being my home course, I know every nook and cranny,” Schwartz said. “I got on the trail fast and then let the tough conditions take everyone down.”

Boyd finished fourth as a team, 14 points out of a region bid.

Kristain Bowen was 14th in 13:24, Mary Miller 17th in 13:33, Georgie Tullos 21st in 13:47 and Emma Thomas 32nd in 14:48.



Team: 1. Holliday 45, 2. Paradise 63, 3. Bowie 70, 4. Boyd 84, 5. Nocona 85, 6. Jacksboro 175

TOP 10

1. Leah Bullinger, Holliday … 12:21
2. Kaycee Martin, Paradise … 12:33
3. Kamryn Cantwell, Bowie … 12:37
4. Hannah Beth Pearson, Paradise … 12:39
5. Carrie Schwartz, Boyd … 12:48
6. Macie McCullum, Bowie … 13:00
7. Maddie Mitschke, Paradise … 13:05
8. Kylie Rose, Nocona … 13:08
9. Chloe Zamzow, Henrietta … 13:06
10. Ainsley Seigler, Holliday … 13:13

Paradise individuals: 26. Christy Sinclair 14:15; 28. Rose Powers, 14:31; 30. Emersen Adams, 14:36; 35. Ciera Brock, 15:24

Boyd individuals: 14. Kristain Bowen, 13:24; 17. Mary Miller, 13:33; 21. Georgie Tullos, 13:47; 32. Emma Thomas, 14:48; 38. Jasmine Hammett, 15:38; 40. Abby Hays, 15:42


Team: 1. Boyd 20, 2. Paradise 63, 3. Jacksboro 85, 4. Holliday 91, 5. Bowie 135, 6. City View 161, 7. Nocona 162

TOP 10

1. Connor Richardson, Boyd … 17:17
2. Tristan Lemasters, Boyd … 17:27
3. Matthew Eisen, Paradise … 17:35
4. Manny Garcia, Boyd … 17:35
5. Gauge Fahlin, Boyd … 17:52
6. Logan Swistak, Holliday … 18:26
7. Javier Palomar, Jacksboro … 18:34
8. Blake Rodgers, Boyd … 18:36
9. Kobe Wakefield, Paradise … 18:37
10. Dallas Clark, City View … 18:42

Boyd individuals: 13. Colton Lawson, 19:11; 23. Lucas Loya, 19:56

Paradise individuals: 14. Justin Culp, 19:13; 15. Jacoby Isaacs, 19:15; 22. Ryan Austin, 19:52; 30. Cordell Scarlett, 20:47; 32. Masun Luna, 21:00

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