Runners tune up at Ken Gaston meet
WHS’ Jones places 2nd in Elite division in final race of regular season
GRAND PRAIRIE — Led by a strong second-place finish by sophomore Emilee Jones, the Waxahachie Lady Indians cross-country team finished fifth in the women’s 5,000-meter Elite division at the Ken Gaston 25th Annual Invitational hosted by Arlington Sam Houston on Thursday at Lynn Creek Park.
Jones finished the race in 18 minutes, 21.9 seconds, behind race winner Brighton Mooney of Frisco Independence. WHS senior Cori Morgan added a 10th-place finish in 19:25.8, followed by freshman Lyndsay Giles in 39th place in 21:31.1, sophomore Whitley Blankenship in 40th in 21:36.8 and senior Tessa Dominy in 49th place in 22:15.5. Also competing for WHS were senior Cameron McBride and junior Keeley Hearron.
Also running in the women’s Elite division were the Midlothian Lady Panthers, who finished sixth. Leading MHS was senior Avalon Mitchell in 33rd place in 20:49.9, followed closely by freshman Jada Prichard in 34th in 20:53.8 and sophomore Mayra Finnestad in 36th in 21:08.0. Senior Madison Blanch was 46th in 22:00.4 and junior Juliet Garcia was 53rd in 22:35.4 to round out the team total, with juniors Samantha Presas and Maria Huerta also competing.
MHS also fielded a team of runners in the women’s Class 5A-6A division, and the top Lady Panther was freshman Kristina Bates, who finished 60th in 22:46.2. Red Oak’s leading runner was junior Ana Cook, who placed 70th in 23:02.3.
The Indians competed in the Men’s Elite division and placed seventh as a team, led by freshman Jaime Gonzalez in 22nd place in 17:07.5. Junior Braden Buegeler was 46th in 18:19.4; freshman Ezra Perez was 56th in 18:47.3; sophomore Conner Schmidt was 61st in 18:57.2; and senior Lucas Molina was 62nd in 19:04.1. Sophomore Eli Nance also participated.
Midlothian placed fifth in the same race, with junior Daemon Rodriguez once again leading the Panthers with a 29th-place finish in 17:32.1. Senior Caeleb Bridgins was 34th in 17:43.0; junior Makarian Urquhart was 39th in 17:52.7; sophomore Caden Naizer was 48th in 18:27.0; and senior Benjamin Cardenas was 50th in 18:36.1. Sophomore Miles McArthur and senior Caden Grisham also finished the race.
Red Oak and Ennis competed in the men’s Class 5A-6A division, with Red Oak sophomore Inaky Garcia placing a strong ninth in 17:35.9 and Ennis freshman Martin Hernandez-Barriaga placing 27th in 18:17.3. WHS and MHS both also entered teams in this division, with MHS sophomore Kowen Torres placing 43rd in 18:33.2.
The best showing by the local contingent was by the Midlothian Heritage Jaguars, who placed four runners in the top nine and won the men’s Class 1A-4A team race.
Senior Dillon Hinds took the silver medal by finishing the 5,000 meters in 18:01.7, followed by freshman Ricardo Perez winning the bronze in 18:29.1. Sophomore Casey Jansen was seventh in 18:42.3; junior Jordan Martinez was ninth in 18:50.8; and freshman Justin Roberts was 13th in 19:02.3, with Landon Kelly, Sebastian Diaz, Jacob Clasemann, Timothy Preusser and Brent Penwarden also competing.
Ferris freshman Anthony Moreno placed 10th as an individual in 18:56.2, and Maypearl also sent a trio of runners, led by a 16th-place finish by sophomore Harris VanBlarcom in 19:14.5.
The women’s Class 1A-4A division ran a 2-mile race, with Heritage freshman Eva Jacobsen crossing the finish line in fourth place to lead the Jaguars to a second-place team finish in a time of 12:41.7.
Junior Alexandra Schmidt was eighth in 13:11.9, followed by the pack of freshman Ziah Zachry, sophomore Riley Click and freshman Georli Vaughn placing 18th through 20th. Junior Lauren Schmidt was 23rd and senior Kayla Moore was 24th.
The Maypearl Lady Panthers also entered the meet, with sophomore Makayla Stephens leading the way by finishing 21st in 14:24.0.
The Ken Gaston Invitational was the last cross-country action of the regular season, with district meets set for Thursday, Oct. 14. Waxahachie will return to Lynn Creek Park for the District 11-6A championships, while Midlothian, Red Oak and Ennis will head to the grounds of MISD Multipurpose Stadium for the District 14-5A meet.