Decatur holds off Andrews, wins 4A state title

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, November 3, 2018.
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When Decatur’s final runner — senior Anthony Rodriguez — crossed the finish line Saturday in the Class 4A boys 5K at the UIL Cross Country Championships, Decatur coach David Park had no idea where the Eagles stood in the standings.

“I didn’t know where we were,” Park said. “I knew we were in the mix. I was having issues counting people.”

As Decatur made its way back to camp, Park and the rest of the Eagles began feverishly refreshing their phones awaiting results. Soon, a shriek rang out through Old Settlers Park, which was followed by more cheers.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

Park made his way over and asked to see for himself. When he was satisfied, he turned to his team and made the news official.

Decatur was the 4A state champion.

The Eagles held off second-place Andrews by two points, winning the title 90-92 in Round Rock. It was Decatur’s first title since 2012 and fifth cross country championship in school history.

“It’s surreal,” said junior Triston Read. “I can’t even believe it. We’ve worked so hard for this. It’s been all of our dreams. They finally came true.”

Read was the Eagles’ top finisher, turning in a time of 16:15.40 for 10th overall.  Fellow junior Matthew Ashmore also finished in the top 25, posting a 16:30.33 for 14th.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

“There are no words,” Ashmore said. “This will be a very good memory.”

While Read and Ashmore cracked the top 25, it was the back of the pack that made the difference for Decatur.

Gabe Embree, Oscar Palomo and Derrick Bible finished within 34 places of each other. Embree took 30th with a 16:40.88. Palomo clocked a 17:00.86 for 49th and Derrick Bible was 64th in 17:10.99.

“We do it different ways. It was just incredible,” Park said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of special years.”

Lenin Blanco and Rodriguez rounded out Decatur’s runners. Blanco took 97th with a 17:33.91 and Rodriguez turned in an 18:44.71 for 144th.

“Without the back of our pack coming through like they did today, we wouldn’t even be in the top four,” Read said. “It’s awesome. They put in the same amount of effort as us. It showed today.

“I’ll remember this feeling for the rest of my life and I’ll remember these guys for the rest of my life. The bond we’ve created this year will stick with us forever.”

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