By BRAD KEITH
(September 24, 2017) — If Stephenville was looking for a boost to the confidence of its girls cross country team, they found it Saturday in Lubbock.
Running on the same course at Mae Simmons Park where the regional meet is held annually, Stephenville won as close a race as one could imagine possible, holding off longtime Region I-4A power Andrews by one point to finish atop the 4A Girls Division in the Lubbock ISD Invitational.
The Bees finished with 75 points and Andrews 76, both more than 30 points ahead of the rest of a 13-team filled, each with plans for returning to Lubbock in October to determine who will advance to the state meet in Round Rock.
One points may not even explain how close the race really was. First, consider that’s one point spread over five placing runners for each team, then look at their average times, as Andrews actually finished the two-miles in 13 minutes, 27.4 seconds per runner for a total time (runners 1-5) of 1:07:17.2, and Stephenville in 13:27.8 per runner for a total of 1:07:19.3.
But the places and times don’t always mirror one another, especially in a race this tight.
Presley Wall finished in what has quickly become the customary top spot among the Honeybee harriers, taking fourth in 12:52.8, important with Andrews racing out to an early lead on the back of second-place Catherine Lopez in 12:34.6.
Lopez being a star on the course and dusting all but one other runner proved to be the primary reason Andrews had a faster average time, but Lopez finishing 18.2 seconds ahead of Wall only earned the Mustangs a two-point lead with four scorers still to come for both.
Emily Kirbo was right behind Wall in fifth place in 12:54.9, while Andres’ second runner did not come in until eighth, when Eylee Vasquez cross the line in 13:13.6. Each had two runners finished with Stephenville scoring 9 and Andrews 10.
The biggest lead for Andrews came with its No. 3 finisher, Naialee Sacido, taking 13th in 13:31.5, while the No. 3 runner for Stephenville, Anahi Rivas, crossed the line 20th in 13:46.6. Andrews had 23 points, Stephenville 29.
Andrews No. 4 scorer, in fact, was ahead of Rivas in 19, but keeping the Bees within striking distance was Reagan Henry, who was fourth for the Bees in 22nd in 13:39.42, making it Andrews 42, Stephenville 51.
Then came the No. 5 girls – Kassidy Nowak running wright with Henry in 24th, and the next Andrews runner 10 spots back in 34th, leaving the Bees one point ahead.
Nowak finished in 13:55.7, making the Bees the only team to get five across the line in under 14 minutes.
Just as important as the top five runners for the Bees was displacing runner Monica Flores. Her 33rd finish in 14:11.8 stopped the No. 5 Andrews runner, from finishing a spot higher than 34th in 14:12.8. That one split second – just a couple good strides – over the 14 total miles traversed by seven runners was all the difference, but t was enough for the Bees.
And Andrews even had two chances to get a runner ahead of Flores because its No. 6 runner was 35th in 14:14.4, just another 1.6 seconds back. Andrews’ last displace finished 4th in 14:21.3 and Stephenville’s was Tania Arregun, just behind her in 41st with a time of 14:25.
Third in the team standings was Perryton (109), fourth Dalhart (119) and fifth Pampa (119), which tied Dalhart but had a lower-placing top displacer.
The Stephenville boys tied Levelland for sixth and was seventh after the tiebreaker. Each scored 191 points.
Fifth-place Christian Brown covered the 5K of terrain 16:57.7 to lead the Stephenville boys. Luis Carrillo placed 17th in 17:38.8, then came the big gap that hurt the Yellow Jackets as their No. 3 was 45th. It was Daniel Osornio in 18:40.6, followed in 63rd by Angelo Luna in 19:19.9 and Izaiah Garibaldo in 68th, stopping the clock in 19:24.1. Displacers were Gilberto Garcia in 69th with a time of 19:25.9 and Gustavo Vasquez, 98th in 20:51.4,