CLEBURNE — Runners from high schools across Ellis County not only took their marks at Buddy Stewart Park in Cleburne last Friday — they left their mark, too.
Runners from Waxahachie, Waxahachie Life, Midlothian, Midlothian Heritage, Red Oak, and Maypearl all contributed in the resetting of a school record, breaking a two-year-old record, several personal-best times and 14 top-10 team finishes across seven division and two classifications.
Cleburne High School hosted its annual Cleburne Buzz Run last Friday, Sept. 15. Teams competed in the varsity and junior varsity boys and girls division of either the 6A-5A or 4A-and-under classifications.
Of all the teams competing, however, the varsity boys group from Waxahachie led to pack — literally.
The Indians (117 points) were the only Ellis County team to stand atop a leaderboard, just finishing ahead of Belton (133 points) and Waxahachie Life (134 points). Midlothian (7th, 209) and Red Oak (16th, 419) rounded out the Ellis County teams in the field of 26.
Brandon Gilliland, of Waxahachie, completed the 5,000-meter race in second place and a little over three seconds behind the leader Jeremias Serrano of Killeen Shoemaker (15:29.64). In doing so, Gilliand's time of 15:32.34 broke the previous Waxahachie High School record set during the 2015 Region II Championships by Derek Espinoza. He is also now the No. 2-ranked 5A runner in the state of Texas.
With only two races before the district meet — Mansfield Invitational on Sept. 22 and the 21st annual Ken Gaston Invitational on Sept. 28 — Waxahachie head boys cross country coach Edward De La Cruz said his team is beginning to peak at the right time. The thought was made more evident by each of his top seven runners finishing with new personal records.
"It was one of our more complete races so far. We have gotten second, third and first as a team but, being this late in the year already, the kids are starting to run faster and faster so it was definitely one of the more complete races," De La Cruz said. "[...] Like I have told them, winning is great. But right now, this isn't district. This isn't regionals. We want to make sure we are winning at the right time. We need to keep the confidence, keep pushing and have no back down at all. We have to realize that after each race we have to put it behind us. Whether it is a good race, a great race or a bad race, you have to take each race and learn from it."
Waxahachie seniors Kirby Chandler (16:28.26) and Jacob Solis (17:14.55) finished in 14th and 33rd places, while sophomores Brandon Moore (16:37.35) and Sam Molina (17:20.53) rounded out the top-five scorers.
Keep in mind: cross country is scored with a point or points assigned based on the corresponding place finished with the lowest team score winning. For example, a runner who finishes in first place receives one point, second place receives two points, and so forth.
Waxahachie Life continues to impress opposing coaches, such as De La Cruz, with their ability to compete against larger schools. Samuel Rosales (5th, 15:44.96), William Horton (6th, 15.55.54) and Nicholas Rosales (13, 16.25.94) led the Mustangs.
"They are pretty good. I think, if they stay healthy and keep running the way that they are, they should make it state in 4A," De La Cruz remarked.
Sophomore Tanner Henderson (3rd, 15:38.92) and senior Tristan Brubaker (19th, 16:37.59) led the pack for the Midlothian Panthers and Zach Heimbuch (30th) finsihed as the top Red Oak Hawk with a time of 16:25.94.
In the 6A-5A Junior Varsity division, Waxahachie (313) finished in 12th place and Red Oak (496) in 18th.
Andrew Galbraith, of Waxahachie, led the way with his 22nd-place finish in 18:39.02.
De La Cruz said is excited to see his younger runners continue to push the varsity squad.
"Our sophomores are pretty mature. Brandon Moore is one of our captains and he is a sophomore," he said. "Our seniors do pretty good job of leading but our sophomores have that same level of maturity and I think it has helped for them to have run together for two years now."
Fresh off of her school record, freshman Emma Curry, of Waxahachie, decided to re-break her own school record with a 19.17.77 in the 6A-5A Varsity girls' 5,000-meter race to lead all female county competitors.
Teammates Alyson Moore (15th, 19:59.72) and Emily Mackel (33, 20:55.15) joined Curry among the Lady Indians finishing inside the top-50. Moore is also a freshman. Cathryn Bigham and Brooke Trull also set personal records.
Faith Reynolds led the Waxahachie Life Lady Mustangs with a 20.01:46, good enough for 16th place, while Katherine Yarbrough (36, 21:03.55) and Kaylie Wheeless (37, 21:03.78) guided the way for the Midlothian Lady Panthers.
In the junior varsity division, Audrey Semperio (9th, 22:26.31) and Karina Huerta (23:30.62) paced the Waxahachie team to a 7th-place finish out of 15 teams.
Midlothian Heritage boys and girls finished in second place in each of the two respective varsity divisions and the girls added a fourth-place finish in the junior varsity race. Maypearl added three top-10 finishes in the three races, while Waxahachie Life finished in seventh place in both girls races.
For the Heritage girls, four freshmen helped the varsity team to a second place finish with 83 points in the 3,000-meter race.
Renee Elliott (2nd, 10:44.62), Rachel Allen (4th, 11:10.08), Emilee Page (11:50.09), and Natacia Ruiz (26th, 12:16.62) led the way for the Jaguars along with junior Savanna Smith (24th, 12:11.11). Maypearl freshman Caitlyn Freyman finished in 27th with a 12:18.08.
The Heritage junior varsity girls were led by top-40 finishes from Kristen Valdez, Blythe Williams, Amiya Guynes, Jasmine Bailey, Emma Arnold, and Lila Vang.
On the boys' side, Heritage had seven runners finish in 27th-place or better.
Junior Kyle Penwarden completed the race in 16:56.56 for a second-place medal and Ethen Agreda ran a 17:21.19, good enough for fifth.
Other Jaguars in the top-30 included Tyler Walker (12th, 17:55.24), Garrett Garvin (20th, 18:22.80), Malachi Klor (22nd, 18:24.93), Gunnar Ponivas (25th, 18:36.70) and Noah Wagnon (27th, 18:43.84).
Robert Pinter was the top finisher for the ninth-place Maypearl Panthers with a 45th-place time of 19:55.12.