Waxahachie junior Emma Curry is making her second trip to the University Interscholastic League state cross country championships. This time, she wants to bring home some hardware.
“I’d like to come away with a medal and be in the top 10,” Curry said. “That’s what I’ve been training for all year. Any time in the top 10 would be a PR (personal record), I’m sure. Just coming away with a top 10 and a PR would be really exciting.”
A year after finishing in the middle of the pack at state as a sophomore, Curry will run in the Class 6A girls’ championship race on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. Curry will receive a sendoff at the high school on Thursday morning.
Curry, in fact, will be running her third race on the championship course. The Lady Indians ran the exact same course last month in the Round Rock McNeil Invitational, so she is gaining a little familiarity with it.
“It’s a tough course, but as good as the competition is, it’s good to run a really fast time,” she said.
Curry qualified at the 6A Region I meet last week in Lubbock, but she wasn’t happy with her time, which was well off her PR. She finished eighth overall, more than a minute off the winning pace.
“Basically the whole course is hills,” she said. “We ran hills a lot, so were prepared for that, but we hadn’t really raced with a lot of hills, so it was tough. But in regionals, it’s not based on fast times; it’s based on place.”
No cross country teams from Ellis County qualified this time, but a bunch of local individual medalists will be joining Curry at the state meet.
Midlothian High seniors Tanner Henderson and Keila Finnestad qualified as medalists in the Class 5A Region II meet at Dallas’ Jesse Owens Memorial Complex last week. Henderson finished the 5,000-meter boys’ race in fourth place in a time of 15 minutes, 21.95 seconds, a little more than three seconds behind third-place Wyatt Wingard of Frisco Reedy. Meanwhile, Finnestad finished in 12th place in the girls’ regional race, in a time of 18:59.96.
In Class 4A, Midlothian Heritage’s Renee Elliott and Ethen Agreda and Life Waxahachie’s Charzelle Williams all qualified for state in the 4A Region III meet in Huntsville last week. Williams, a freshman, finished the 2-mile course in second place in 12:14, just 23.1 seconds behind individual race winner Emily Garcia of Alvarado but beating out District 17-4A and county rival Elliott, who finished third.
Elliott qualified after finishing in third place at the Class 4A Region III girls’ meet, and Agreda placed 13th overall in the boys’ race. Elliott, a junior, ran the 2-mile course in 12:18.4, finishing just behind race winner Emily Garcia of Alvarado and Life’s Williams. Agreda, a senior, placed 13th overall, running the 5,000-meter boys’ course in 17:21.4 to lead the Jags.
Other local qualifiers for state include Brody Townly of Italy, who will compete in the Class 2A boys’ race; Joseph Orndorff of Milford, who will run in the 1A boys’ race; and Emely Salazar of Avalon, who will compete in the 1A girls’ state meet.
“I know a lot of the qualifiers,” Curry said. “I’m friends with a lot of them in other classifications. I see them at some races, but a lot of those people I never race against just because we’re in different classifications. But we all know each other.”
This spring, Curry said she plans to continue to run the distance events — the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs — but wants to run the 800-meter more often.
Curry has another year of high school left after this year, but is already considering what she’ll do after she graduates from WHS.
“I definitely want to run in college,” she said. “I’ve talked to probably about 12 coaches informally from coast to coast. I don’t have any definite plans yet.”
UIL state cross country qualifiers
Ellis County runners who have qualified for the University Interscholastic League state cross country championships on Saturday in Round Rock:
Emma Curry, Waxahachie
Keila Finnestad, Midlothian
Charzelle Williams, Life Waxahachie; Renee Elliott, Midlothian Heritage
Emely Salazar, Avalon
Tanner Henderson, Midlothian
Ethen Agreda, Midlothian Heritage
Brody Townly, Italy
Joseph Orndorff, Milford