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Saturday Sports Buffet: Finding a home – Richards, TexAnns win conference crown

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, November 4, 2017
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Onthe Run

ON THE RUN – Paradise alum Taylor Richards has adapted to running in college and found a home at her second school with the Tarleton State University TexAnns. Her team will run in the NCAA South Central Regionals Saturday. Photo courtesy Tarleton State University

In her one year at Western Texas College in Snyder, Taylor Richards longed for a chance to compete with a team similar to what she had in high school.

“I had a hard cross country season being the only one running and training,” Richards recalled. “There were no other girls and I was training on my own.”

After placing 25th in the NJCAA Region V championships, Richards elected to transfer to Tarleton where she found exactly what she was looking for. And success soon followed for the 2016 Wise County Female Athlete of the Year and Paradise alum.

Richards and the TexAnns won the Lone Star Conference championship last month. Richards ran a 25:23 on the 6K course to finish 33rd.

Richards and her Tarleton teammates will run in the NCAA South Central Regional Saturday.

“I’m so excited that I came here,” Richards said. “Tarleton is closer to home and it’s just like Paradise where I have a team.”

At Paradise, Richards worked herself into being one of the program’s top runners. She missed out on a spot with Paradise’s state cross country team as a freshman, but made the trip to Round Rock the next three years. As a senior, she finished 67th on a rain-soaked course at the state meet.

In track, she helped Paradise reach the region finals in all three relays.

The three-sport star over the summer after she graduated decided to run in college and took an opportunity at Western Texas.

Running cross country in college has been quite the change from competing in the 3,200 in high school.

She said her teammates have helped her adapt. She is doing long runs of eight to 10 miles and often completing multiple runs in a day.

“The more miles you run, it helps,” Richards said.

Her top 5K time this year is a 20:02 at the Rebel Invite in Oxford, Miss. Sept. 15.

She’s hoping to get her 6K time down in the 23s Saturday and see her team qualify for nationals.

“It’ll be hard. If we run our best race, we’ll have a chance,” Richards said.

In the spring, Richards could be taking on a whole new challenge and run the steeplechase.

“It’s completely different than anything I’ve done before,” she said. “I’m looking forward to trying it.”

SIDEDISHES

  • The Bridgeport Bulls didn’t make it into the win column until the sixth week of the season. But after a dramatic comeback last week against Vernon to win their third game in four weeks, the Bulls went into Friday with a chance to be the county’s top playoff seed. Bridgeport could take the second seed in 3-4A Division II with a win over Iowa Park. If the Bulls ended up the third seed, it would likely set up a tasty bi-district matchup with their former quarterback Jason Faulkenberry and Godley in the opening round.
  • Entering Friday, Bridgeport, Alvord and Chico had wrapped up playoff spots. The rest of the county will still need to wait until the final week to nail down postseason spots…What fun Tuesday night could be. The Decatur Lady Eagles and coach Clark Oberle faces his old team, Argyle, for a spot in the region tournament. The two teams split matches in the regular season. In 3A Region I, Boyd could meet Peaster again, who knocked it out of the playoffs last year in four games. Get your popcorn ready.
  • The hoops season starts next week for girls basketball teams. The Slidell girls begin the season ranked No. 7 in Class A after a trip to the region final last year. The Lady Greyhounds lost several starters but still bring back Wise County MVP Bailey Meyer.
  • In boys hoops, the Northwest Texans start the year ranked No. 1 in 5A after making a trip to the state tournament last season. And Avery Anderson and company will be even stronger this year with the addition of former Decatur Eagle Mason Hix in the frontcourt. Hicks recently committed to UT-Arlington.
  • It’s been a big fall for former Wise County standouts. At Concordia University in Nebraska, Ryan Durdon has 1,056 yards rushing with seven touchdowns. He’s 210 yards from breaking the school rushing record. Former Wise County volleyball MVP, Stormi Leonard moved into third place on the Great American Conference career assists list. Wednesday, 2017 Decatur graduate Bryce Elder started game three of the University of Texas’ Orange/White World Series, allowing three runs in 4.2 innings on seven hits.
  • The first College Football Playoff poll came out this week and the Big 12 surprised me with Oklahoma at No. 5. Still don’t expect the conference to get into the playoff without some help in front and behind them. A tight SEC title game between the best two teams in college football this season, should put both Georgia and Alabama in the playoff along with Notre Dame and Clemson. But there’s plenty of games left.
  • Congrats to the Astros as much as it pains me to say. I still can’t forgive the franchise for the several seasons of not fielding a competitive team, but it paid off into a championship.

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