Team, as well as individual goals that were forged out in the heat of the August sun were realized on an overcast Thursday morning at Jacksonville Middle School.
The Jacksonville High School varsity girls finished second in the team standings at the District 16-4A Cross Country Meet, and as a result will be one of three schools to represent the loop at the Class 4A Region II Meet scheduled for Nov 3 in Arlington.
In the varsity boys race, sophomore Jerry Romano, JHS's only participant, turned in a valiant effort to come in sixth place n the individual standings, which means he too will be traveling to Arlington next month.
Favorite Whitehouse won the team standings of the varsity girls division by scoring 53 points.
With 55 points, the Fight'n Maidens were next, with Nacogdoches (58) earning the final ticket to regionals.
Lindale (87) and Corsicana (106) completed the running order — John Tyler did not field a full team.
“When only five points separates the first three teams, you know that it takes a great team effort to be up there,” Kiff Wiemers, JHS girl's country country coach said. “These young ladies have worked hard since the end of summer with this goal in mind and I'm glad to see that all of their hard work has paid off.”
The first girl to stop the timer was Whitehouse's Chaynee Atwood, who recorded a time of 20:14.30 for the 3-mile run over the mostly flat and sandy course.
A total of 34 girls ran in the race.
Tempsett Silvers was the first Fight' Maiden to finish. Silvers, a freshman, ran a 21:45.36 to come in fourth.
“I know out little freshman (Silvers) had her mind set on No. 1,” Wiemers said. “But there are already a lot of people looking at her and if she sticks with cross country she will have an awesome future in the sport.”
Mirian Mendoza snagged a ninth-place finish by finishing in 22:22.34.
“We doubted ourselves a lot before the race, so we were really surprised when we saw that we had finished second as a team,” Silvers said.
Mendoza said that her team had improved a lot through the year.
“We were running in the 30's when the season first started and now we are down in the 20's, so I guess all those 5 a.m. practices paid of,” she said.
As for regionals, Mendoza said that they would worry about that later.
“It's time to celebrate now...PIZZA!” she said.
Lindsay Johnston came in 11th (22:33.28) for the Maidens, followed by Jackie Garcia (14th, 23:16.78), Ester Botello who ran a 23:38.80 to finish 17th and Christy Belk (27th, 24:00.47).
Wiemers said Botella's effort was very noteworthy.
“After the first lap Ester (Botello) almost had to step out of the race,” Wiemers explained. “She's been fighting a hamstring injury all season.
“But she dug deep and stay out there, and right there at the end she passed three Nacogdoches runners which was what put us past Nac in the team standings.”
Lindale (32), Nacogdoches (48) and Whitehouse (67) topped out as the circuit's regional representatives.
Corsicana came in fourth. Neither Jacksonville nor John Tyler had enough runners to make up a full team.
Troy Hayden of Whitehouse finished first out of the 30 runners, completing the course in a time of 16:27.83.
JHS's Romano had a final time of 18:32.29.
“It's been a goal of Jerry's since the Hallsville Meet to make it to regionals,” Randy Hammontree, JHS boys head cross country coach said. “Frankly, I was a little worried before the race because some of the other teams had added some new boys to their team since the last time we saw them.
“Jerry has worked real hard for this and it is exciting to get to see him realize his goal in this way.”