NEW SUMMERFIELD —
When the folks at the New Summerfield Independent School District commit to hosting an event, history has proven that they usually do things right and such was the case Friday morning when the school district rolled out the red carpet for the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Cross Country Championships at the brand new New Summerfield Athletic Complex.
The RRAC is affiliated with the NAIA and the league had schools from Oklahoma (Bacone, Langston) joining a lone Louisiana representative — LSU-Shreveport — to compete against a cluster of Texas institutions in both men's and women's divisions.
The Texas schools included, UT-Brownsville, Our Lady of the Lake, Huston-Tillotson, Jarvis Christian and Wiley College of Marshall, who partnered with the New Summerfield ISD to host the event.
UT-Brownsville's men scored 26 points to finish in front of runner-up Wiley (43) in the team standings while Our Lady of the Lake's ladies tallied 29 points to edge UT-Brownsville (32).
The RRAC's winning teams, plus the top-four finishers not on the winning team, will advance to the NAIA's national championships, to be contested in Lawrence, Kan. later this month.
Individual winners were David Guillen of UT-Brownsville, a sophomore, who kept his perfect win streak for 2013 alive by crossing the line first in a time of 26:14.1 in the 8K run and UT-Brownsville's Vanessa Garcia, a junior, who lead a field of 42 women to the finish in a clocking of 17:42.1 over the 5K layout.
New Summerfield ISD superintendent Gregg Weiss said hosting the RRAC's cross country extravaganzas was something that was important for the district.
“It's really a privilege for us to host something like this and showcase our facility,” Weiss said. “It's exciting to expose our older kids to a college atmosphere and we hope this (meet) will help us draw more events like this to our school.”
New Summerfield head cross country coach Kent Willis, whom Weiss gave credit for doing much of the leg work in coordinating and promoting the event with the RRAC, explained why New Summerfield's cross country facility is an ideal choice for colleges to use.
“One thing that people like about our course is that it is a dedicated course,” Willis said. “People know what our course is like and they like the way it looks and they like to run across the rolling hills of East Texas. We've built the course to where runners go diagonal across the hills and not straight up them, so not only does the course look nice, but it is not hard for runners to navigate.”
Willis said that the meet's benefits to the New Summerfield students was another positive factor in hosting the championships.
“It's like we told everyone at the banquet (Thursday) night,” Willis said. “Even though New Summerfield is a small town, we are big on education and athletics. We want to expose as many of our kids as possible to colleges and the easiest way to do that is to bring the colleges to them and by hosting these championships it gave us an opportunity to do that.”
Willis added that the New Summerfield board of trustees deserve all of the credit for having the vision and providing the financial means to construct the New Summerfield Athletic Complex, which includes the cross country configuration, an eight-lane all-weather track, stadium seating for fans and participants as well as a press box, concession stand, restrooms and paved parking — all the key ingredients needed for staging a cross country event.