In Waxahachie, cross country records are made to be broken.
During Friday’s Mansfield Invitational, senior captain Derek Espinoza broke a 16-year-old Waxahachie High School record and for the second week in a row, sophomore captain Caymee Bigham shattered her own school record.
Espinoza’s 16:03.7, 5,000-meter run time beat Matt Rodgers’ 16:06.8 run time, the previous school record set at the Lewisville Invitational in 1999.
“My brother ran in high school for the first team in Waxahachie to go to state,” Espinoza said about his motivation behind running. “We always compete and it really drove me to be a good runner. I met Matt (Rodgers) for the first time at the parade on Friday. He was right next to our float. Coach De La Cruz told him I broke his record. He was pretty psyched for me.”
Espinoza called his entrance into the city’s storied history “awesome,” adding he hopes to round out his high school career with a trifecta.
“I got the 2-mile (record) in sophomore year and now I have this one,” said Espinoza.
“Hopefully, I can get the mile (record) this track season. I’ve really stepped up the intensity this off-season, I’ve been going really hard every single day of practice. I never skip workouts and it’s paying off.”
Boys head coach Edward De La Cruz said he can attest to the hard work, the miles and the anguish Espinoza has put in to get physically where he is now.
“When you put a lot of work into something and you see the results of your hard work, it’s a compilation of your will. Derek’s been running since he was in eighth grade, building up for this moment. People don’t realize that success comes from running year-round and putting in high mileage,” De La Cruz said. “They don’t realize he’s putting the work in. Don’t get me wrong, you have to have a goal thats willing to put you in a position to be successful, but it’s all him. He’s the one that’s putting in the work. He’s the one that’s pushing himself. He’s the one running the race, feeling the pain and still decides to push even though it’s hard.”
Caymee Bigham’s performance at the Mansfield Invitational was equally impressive. With a time of 20:12.60 she broke her own school record set a week prior at the Ken Gaston Invitational, eclipsing her previous mark by more than 12 seconds.
“It’s one after the other, every week she seems to do better,” said girls cross country head coach Jason Venable. “That’s what we plan on doing. We want to outdo ourselves each week. Caymee’s a special young lady that works hard everyday. She’s got a great attitude and never complains. She’s been working hard for three years now and sets a great example for the younger runners.”
With her record-breaking accomplishment, her humility, drive and effort didn’t help her do anything but look toward the next meet, a race of district implications.
“It feels good, but I guess my mind’s more focused on district this week so we can make it to regionals,” said Bigham. “People are always watching you and you have to set the example.”
She said though she has athletic ability in her blood, the lessons she learned from her mother and father about being a good, humble leader are the things she wants to be judged by.
Tamera Conner, who placed 108th and ran a time of 21:19, was a basketball player who had never run competitively. Venable said she has blossomed as a runner as a result of the mentoring Bigham has given.
“Little Tamera got second this week out of our girls, which is a huge step for her,” said Venable. “She shaved two to three minutes off of her times last week. That’s is all because of Caymee.”