Lady Mustangs cherish history made
Williams' school-record finish leads Life Waxahachie to 4A cross country success
Making school history, the Life High School Waxahachie Lady Mustangs had a first-time top-10 finisher, earning the team fifth place at the UIL State 4A Cross Country championship on Nov. 23. Previously running undefeated on a seven-streak win during the pre-district races, the Lady Mustangs won the District 11-4A title and took third at the 4A Region II championship, qualifying for state.
“Our training for the two weeks before State was about making sure everyone was as healthy as possible and that all the work they had put in throughout the season could be showcased,” expressed Daniel Dagen, LHSW Head Cross Country Coach.
Comprised of two freshmen, two juniors, and one sophomore - the young team was led by its top-10 finisher, sophomore Charzell Williams. Just 26 seconds on the heels of Adele Clark of Celina, Williams ran at a sensational pace, clocking in at 11:57 and earning sixth place in the individual two-mile race.
“Charzell had the benefit of experience considering she was the only one that ran at the State Meet before,” Dagen explained. “One thing I am most proud of is how she responded from last year's race. She was in seventh or eighth place with a quarter mile left and ended up getting passed up by several runners at the end.”
“Over this last year she focused on and trained to have a better finish to the race. It was great to see her come around the corner to the finish and pass up a girl at the end to get that sixth place finish. It was sweet redemption after what happened last year,” he added.
Though this was the rest of the team’s first state meet, the Lady Mustangs had an additional reason to celebrate. They claimed fifth place in the overall team finish at Round Rock’s Old Settlers Park. “I'm so proud of their season overall and the way they bonded as a team,” Dagen said. “These are memories that will last and will motivate them going forward. My goal for them going in was to be fifth place and they did just that.”
The success continued with freshmen, Jordynn West and Emeri Adames, placing in the Top 20. Finishing in 16th place, West clocked a time of 12:26 with Adames meriting 19th with a time of 12:31. Completing the team’s score of 143 points, Evelyn Rodriguez placed 69th with a time of 13:24, and Kamilah Rodrigues finished 114th clocking in at 14:48. Also participating in the meet were seniors Natacia Ruiz and Kimber Tolliver. Ruiz crossed the finish line at 15:44.79, with Tolliver closely following at 15:44.93.
“This was an exceptional season for the Lady Mustangs,” noted Scott Thrush, Life School’s Athletic Director. “The coaching staff, as well as our girls, showed resilience throughout the entire year and overcame any and all obstacles that tried to slow them down.” As for a strong contributing factor to this year’s team success, Thrush acknowledged Coach Dagen’s leadership as a key element.
“Coach Dagen’s coaching style was perfect for this young group of Lady Mustangs,” Thrush said. “He is the ideal combination of truth and grace mixed in with a tremendous amount of patience. He loves the student-athletes he coaches and builds special relationships with them, and in turn, they give it their very best in each and every race.”
As for next year’s expectations, the team is determined to stay focused on their goals, work hard, and compete once again at the state level. “We were blessed to have a complete season with only a few minor hiccups along the way,” Dagen said. “My expectation for next year is that we will have fun and I will be blessed to coach whoever shows up to be their best each and every day. That's my expectation and the rest is just icing.” “We are very excited about the next few years and watching our Lady Mustangs continue to work hard on getting their times down and hopefully get back to State for another chance at a State Championship,” Thrush concluded.