GRAND PRAIRIE — History was made Thursday at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie as soon as Izabella Curiel crossed the finish line.
With a time of 22:23.40, Curiel joined Cathryn Bigham, Emily Mackel, Alyson Moore and Emma Curry, as well as Brooke Trull and Bailee Jennings, as a member of the first-ever Waxahachie Lady Indian cross country team to win a district championship.
As for the Indians? Well, they'll be joining the ladies at the Region II Championship after their second-place finish — complete with five top-20 times.
Todd Alexander, who is in his second year as the Lady Indian head cross country coach and 23rd year of coaching, said winning the first girls cross country district championship in school history is both "exciting" and "very special."
"It was awesome. We knew it was going to be a tight race between us, Midlothian, Lake Ridge, and Summit, but we have known since the beginning of the season that if we continue to progress, then we had a chance," Alexander said.
Though she defeated teammate Alyson Moore by about a ponytail, Emma Curry led the pack on her way to a first-place time of 20:10.3 — with Moore crossing the finish line half of a second later (20:10.8).
Alexander noted the two had not run that closely in any other meet this year, but it was always the way he hoped they would tackle the district course.
"It is something I've always kind of envisioned them doing in district — running against each other and then gutting it out at the finish," he said. "That is what they did and Emma just edged her out by half a second."
Emily Mackel finished the race in ninth (21:46.9), Cathryn Bigham in 14 (22:15.8) and Curiel rounded out the top-five point-getters in 16th place. Brooke Trull crossed the finish line 23 second later (22:46.3) in 19th, and Bailee Jennings finished in 24:06.0, good enough for 27th out of 51 runners.
As a team, the Lady Indians average 21:21, which was a full 35 seconds better than second-place Midlothian and more than one minute ahead of the pace for third-place Mansfield Lake Ridge. Waxahachie finished with 42 points, while Midlothian collected 59 and Lake Ridge 70. The top three teams advance from district to regionals.
"I saw something in the girls this morning as soon as I got on the bus," Alexander recalled. "I saw a different look in their eyes. They meant business from the get-go this morning. When I saw that look, it pretty much calmed me because I thought 'these girls are about to go win it.' They carried that mindset and that attitude all the way through the race."
The Lady Indians are well aware of the competition level they'll face at the regional meet, but that won't deter their confidence, Alexander added.
"Our region is really really tough and we are going to have to run lights out to compete with those girls. But I believe my girls enable leaving themselves so there is no telling what could happen."
INDIANS FINISH SECOND — BARELY
Four seconds separated the average times of the Indian runners from those of first-place Mansfield Summit — 17:13 to 17:17 — over the 5,000-meter course. The Jaguars edged the Indians 35-46 in points, too.
Waxahachie did, though, finish almost 40 seconds on average faster and nearly 40 points lower than third-place Midlothian (83 points, 17:56 average).
Waxahachie head boys cross country coach Edward De La Cruz said his team knew the competition would be stiff against Summit and Midlothian but entered the meet expecting to compete for the district crown. He also noted the unseasonably warm October afternoon took a toll on his team.
"Today was great. I see these kids working hard, especially with our top five runners who are year-around runners. They put in work during the summer and to see that hard work pay off is awesome," De La Cruz said. "It is a little disappointing to not get first, but with that same token, we got beat by a team that works just as hard as we do so there is no disappointment in that."
Brandon Gilliland bested 50 other runners to finish atop the podium with a time of 16:11.8. Brandon Moore was not too far behind, crossing in 5th place (16:57.9), and Kirby Chandler rounded out the Indians in the top-10 with his seventh-place time of 17:09.6.
Sam Molina and Rafael Aguilar finished in 14th and 19th with times of 17:55.6 and 18:13.5, respectively.
Joshua Kane (24th, 18:23.2) and Joshua Manning (37th, 19:32.5) also ran well for the Indians.
De La Cruz said his team would take the next week-plus to focus on heat training to prepare for the regional championship meet, where they expect to compete for one of the four automatic bids for the state championships in Austin. He also noted Brandon Gilliland has a legitimate chance at qualifying for the state meet as an individual.
"I think there are about seven teams shooting for four spots," he said. "If our top five runners compete how I know they can, then I think we put ourselves in the top three or four in the region."
The University of Texas at Arlington will host the regional meet Monday, Oct. 23 at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie.
*This article has been updated to show the district meet to have taken place at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie, not McKinney.