WAXAHACHIE — Intermittent rain poured down on runners during Saturday morning's Waxahachie Woodhouse Invitational, but it didn't stop three boys and five girls from finishing in the top 30.
"I think the weather played a factor for us positively," said Edward De La Cruz, the boys' head cross country coach at Waxahachie High School. "Anytime you have rain — which is a good thing – it's a good time running and good conditions for racing."
As a team, Waxahachie's boys and girls finished in third, respectively. The boys finished behind Coppell and 4A Life Waxahachie High Schools and the girls closed the invitational be Coppell and Burleson Centennial High Schools.
Senior Brandon Gilliland, whose only words after the 5,000-meter race were, "I still had more to give," finished as the meet's 5A champion.
He fell behind only 6A Fort Worth Pascal High School sophomore Whit Dennis and 6A Coppell senior Matteo Aguis in the final standings with a time of 16:15.
"That's probably top five all-time in history. Boys did really good. Brandon Moore ran a personal best and Kirby Chandler I didn't pretty close to his personal best," De La Cruz added. "Sam Molina and Rafael Aguilar ran personal best against schools like Coppell, Fort Worth hassle and South Grand Prairie. I'm pleased with the first race, but we still have a little more growing to do."
Moore (16:46, 13), Chandler (17:25, 27), Molina (17:51, 39) and Aguilar (18:05, 50) each finished in the top 50 of the 92-boy division.
"They can't be content. All of them had either a personal record or came pretty close to it. If they're content and think that they're good, they'll peak here and not later in the season. They always need to challenge themselves and always grow. I feel like if they do that, they'll get to where they need to be. Because our main goal is to go to state."
Todd Alexander, the school's girls head coach, noted the same can be said for his team of female distance dynamos.
The girls finished third out of 13 UIL 5A and 6A schools — programs like Burleson Centennial and Coppell that Alexander called "solid" — that entered 114 runners in the varsity division.
Freshman Emma Curry, the first Waxahachie female athlete do you cross the finish line, finished 10th at the 19:55 mark. Alyson Moore crossed two runners later at 20:07 in the 5K.
Both are new school records that broke cross country alum Caymee Bigham's 2015 time of 20:12.
Junior Emily Mackel (20:25) placed 16th and freshman Izabella Curiel, who began running with the team less than three weeks ago, finished 33rd and posted a time of 21:55.
Sophomore Brooke Trull (22:42) placed just outside the top 50 as the No. 52 runner to finish the race. She did not run with the team during the 2016 season.
Bailey Jennings, the only senior on the girls' team, saw her time stop at 22:55 — good for 56th overall on the varsity level. Waxahachie's final runner strode across the finish line in 60th place.
Junior Cathryn Bigham crossed at 23:10.
"We've got some good girls really good character and great work ethic," Alexander said. "Our girls ran very well for the first meet. They're looking to improve every day and each week and are looking to be very competitive when we get to district."
Waxahachie will return to the field during the Sept. 2 Dallas Baptist University Invitational at the Michael L. Skinner Sports Complex in Mansfield.
Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.