Headed back out west; Decatur looks to snag state spot

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, October 20, 2018
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The Decatur Eagles have some unfinished business.

At the 2017 4A Region II championships, Decatur was six points away from qualifying for state. The Eagles took fifth place with 116 points, finishing behind Kaufman and Bridgeport. Decatur beat the Bulls by 26 points two weeks earlier at the district meet.

Without two of its top runners due to injury and illness, Decatur came up short of reaching its goal of going to Round Rock.

“A couple others had a bad race, and we missed [state] by a couple of points,” said Decatur coach David Park. “At the beginning of the year, we had a lot higher expectations.”

Monday at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock, the Eagles intend to make amends for last year’s shortcomings.

Park said while his team is eager to get another crack at qualifying for state, he’s emphasized the importance of not dwelling on last season’s race.

“You can’t let last year beat you twice,” Park said. “We’re more focused on the things we can control, which is running the course correctly.”

It is a new course for Decatur, who moved back to Region I and Lubbock. The Eagles have been at the Region II race in Grand Prairie the past few years. The Lubbock course is typically tougher with more hills and tighter turns.

Decatur turned in a perfect score at the District 8-4A meet last week, with Triston Read claiming gold. He clocked a 16:23.86 in the 5K.

Matthew Ashmore, Gabe Embree, Derrick Bible and Anthony Rodriguez finished second through fifth. Oscar Palomo was eighth. The Eagles have focused on packing up and finishing together, a strategy they will implement again, to an extent, at region.

“The first couple of miles we’ll have a team strategy, then we’ll jailbreak,” Park said. “And it’s whoever gets there.”

The Eagles’ main competition will be defending 4A champion San Elizario. Park said while winning the region is still a goal, the main priority is to survive and advance to state.

“We just want to live for another day and we’ll go from there,” Park said. “It’s going to be a race. There is going to be a quality team left home. We just want it to not be us. There have been years where literally we were second in Lubbock and came back and won the state championship two weeks later.

“If the points come out that way, great. It will make for a great bus ride back home.”

Decatur has three runners ranked in the top 13 in 4A. Embree is eighth, Read is 11th and Ashmore is 13th. The 4A boys race will begin at 1:30 p.m.

On the girls side, the Decatur Lady Eagles will look to qualify for state for the 16th consecutive year.

Decatur won the 8-4A title last week with 26 points, as freshman Jentry Lamirand won gold with a 12:03.74 on the 3,200-meter course. The Lady Eagles had six runners in the top 10.

“We want to be tuned in to our core strategy and being certain places on the course at certain points,” Park said. “I think we’re in a pretty good spot right now as a team. We’ve just got to do what we do.”

The Bridgeport Sissies will also be representing Wise County and District 8-4A. Bridgeport took third at the district meet last week, led by Marisol Fraga. She finished eighth, posting a 12:54.90.

The 4A girls race will begin at 1 p.m.

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