Jacksonville Daily Progress
NEW SUMMERFIELD —
NEW SUMMERFIELD — New Summerfield High School has long been recognized for its outstanding boys and girls basketball programs.
Before long, the school could gain a reputation for its cross country squads as well.
Leading the New Summerfield cross county activities is head coach Kent Willis.
The name Willis has gone hand-in-hand with superior cross country and track and field teams for several years now, as Willis started cross country and track and field programs at Lon Morris College that competed at a high level annually in the NJCAA ranks.
Following the closure of LMC, Willis was hired by the New Summerfield ISD where he now coaches cross country and track and field, in addition to his teaching duties.
New Summerfield hosted a cross country meet on Wednesday with 239 runners from 15 schools, including Rusk, Wells and Brook Hill, contesting things in a total of four divisions.
“Our community has really been supportive of our cross country program,” Willis said. “Our meet this week was a major event for a small town, with everyone pitching in to help out. The feedback I got from coaches has been very positive. They are asking when next year's meet will be, and that's always a good sign.”
For the record, Class 3A Pollak Central won the varsity boys division with 15 points.
Martinsville (93), Broddus (99), Tyler HEAT (140) and New Summerfield (152) completed the top five in the team standings — Rusk (186) took sixth place, Wells was one spot behind and the Guard runners ended up eighth.
Central (52) also captured first place in the team standings in the varsity girls segment.
Cushing, with 64 points was second, followed by Tatum (8), Wells (91) and Rusk (115).
New Summerfield with four participants and Brook Hill with one did not figure in the team standings.
Individually, Scotty Sprinkle of Central crossed the line first in a time of 16:02.3.
Rusk's Chase Thompson (17:50.6) came in ninth, followed by Freddy Hernandez of New Summerfield who froze the timer at 17:55.3.
Brook Hill's top time was turned in by Kemp Walker (19:40.6, 28th).
Francisco Parra of New Summerfield just missed a top-10 finish, taking 13th (18:08.3).
Jacquez Cork, representing Rusk, was 17th (18:52.1).
In the varsity girls division, Central's Jocelyn Venegas broke the tape in a time of 11:11.6 to capture the gold.
Sarah Benton of Wells earned a fifth-place finish, running an 11:38.4.
Rusk's fastest time went to Courtney Mullins (13:04.01, 19th).
New Summerfield's first young lady to cross the finish line was senior Cindy Medellin, who completed the 2-mile configuration through the high school campus in a time of 13:57.4.
Willis said that the interest in cross country by the New Summerfield students has caught him by surprise in some ways.
“We've grown exponentially,” he said. “We have more cross country athletes than we have uniforms, so I have had to go back and order some more due to the participation level. When I came here I ordered 10 boys uniforms and 10 girls (uniforms) thinking that would be plenty..
“I came here with the intentions of developing a first-class country program,” he said. “Ultimately, regardless of how long that I am here, I want to leave the program in better shape than it was in when I arrived.
“But, my main goal is academics. If we can do that (academics) right, everything else will take care of itself.