Decatur advances to state for first time since 2014

By Reece Waddell | Published Monday, October 22, 2018.
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Walking to their tent after the boys 4A Region I championships, Decatur coach David Park stopped to hug and congratulate Derrick Bible and Oscar Palomo.

“You ran so good,” Park told them. “I’m so proud of you.”

The two didn’t crack the top 25, but were a major reason the Eagles survived a tough field at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock and advanced to state for the first time in four years.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

Bible posted a 16:59 for 29th and Palomo finished 37th in 17:12.60, one place behind teammate Gabe Embree. It was not as pretty as their perfect score at the District 8-4A meet two weeks ago, but thanks to the back of their pack, the Eagles punched their ticket to Round Rock.

“It wasn’t our best day,” Park said. “But they still found a way. Big credit to names you don’t normally listen to [like Bible and Palomo]. We walked away from it, so it was a landing. I just kept telling them we were in danger and not to settle. And they didn’t.”

Decatur’s usual top three runners — Embree, Triston Read and Matthew Ashmore — got split up after the first mile.  Ashmore was the only Eagle to finish in the top 10, taking fifth with a 16:15.10. Read placed 14th with a 16:34.20.

Ashmore said entering the home stretch, not seeing the usual sea of white and blue jerseys concerned him.

“I was extremely worried,” Ashmore said. “I tried to get [to the front] as far as I could. I wasn’t sure how we were going to end up. I couldn’t find Triston coming in.”

Lerrin Blanco and Anthony Rodriguez rounded out the field for Decatur. Blanco took 46th with a 17:25. Rodriguez was 68th with a 17:51.50.

The Eagles narrowly missed out on qualifying for state last year, falling three points short at the 2017 Region II meet. Ashmore said leaving regionals without a state bid last season was a motivating factor for Decatur, especially during a tough race like Monday.

“We definitely took initiative not making it the past few years,” Ashmore said. “All year long that’s been our mindset — pack up and go to state. It’s everything. We’ve all worked together for three or four years. I don’t even have words for it. It’s breathtaking.”

Decatur will compete at the 4A championships Saturday, Nov. 3 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. Park said despite the off day, he is confident his team will be ready at the state championships in two weeks.

“When you have a day like today on the boy’s side, you re-evaluate what you’re doing,” Park said. “Our training wasn’t to peak today. Our training needs to peak in two weeks. Region I is by far the toughest region, but we know we can get them. We know we can beat them. It’s wheels off. Let’s go.”

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