By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 12, 2017) — Hundreds of miles each athlete has trained, all in preparation for this day, D-Day you could say, for the harriers sharing a league with Stephenville.
The District 8-4A Cross Country Championships may wrap up the regular season, but Stephenville head coach Kristi Mayes has designs on the Honeybees and Yellow Jackets continuing into the postseason with a return trip to Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock for regionals and perhaps even breaking through to what Mayes labeled “The Big House,’ meaning the state met in Round Rock.
The district meet begins with varsity girls racing on a 2-mile course at 10 .a.m., followed by the varsity boys racing three miles at 10:30.
Only one 8-4A school has competed in the same meet as Stephenville and come out ahead of the Honeybees in the team standings, but its’ Glen Rose – the team that will be most comfortable at Dinosaur Valley State Park, it’s home course about a cross-country race’s distance from their high school in Somervell County.
Of course, all these schools have familiarized itself with the courses at Dinosaur Valley, which almost seems as popular as a cross country course as it is for being home to historic dinosaur footprints. Between junior high and high school races there are thousands of miles logged each fall, and teams from across the area have all had ample chance to run there.
Stephenville was right on the heels of the Glen Rose girls much of the fall, finally beating the Lady Tigers by just 4 points in the Thrill of the Hill Invitational in Stephenville City Park eight days ago. Glen Rose most recently defeated Stephenville four days prior to that, when each team competed in the Timber Creek Falcon East Invitational, an event that loaded up quickly with inclement weather forcing the cancellation of the McNeil Invitational in Round Rock, which would have offered many teams a preview of the state meet course.
Instead, Glen Rose took second with 55 points and Stephenville third with 74 in Keller. Jocelyn Mims has been the lead runner for Glen Rose much of the year, usually with Honeybee freshman Payton Wall and Bees junior Emily Kirbo a few strides back.
Stephenville holds the most notable team title of any 8-4A club, having snuck in a one-point victory over long time Region I power Andrews at the Lubbock ISD Invitational, offering a preview of the regional course at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock. Glen Rose did not compete in that event, but the Lady Tigers did beat Stephenville in the Glen Rose Invitational there at Dinosaur Valley, collecting 50 total points to 58. Mims was first for the Lady Tigers, 16 seconds ahead of Wall in second for Stephenville. Kirbo was third for the Bees and lexis Mims fifth for Glen Rose, and whenever those teams are, the separation does not grow much the rest of the way.
The key Wednesday will come down to the 3-4-5 runners, with both teams almost certain to advance to the Region I-4A Championships, but those spots determining which of the two frontrunners will lift the 8-4A championship trophy.
The Yellow Jackets, led by junior Christian Brown and senior Lane Rust, placed third in their most recent outing at home, but likely would have won the Thrill of the Hill Invitational if not for Brown being out of the lineup with an illness.
Yellow Jacket No. 3 runner Luis Luna is not eligible today but could be by the regional meet, said Mayes. Crucial to their regional qualifying effort with be the points from Gilberto Garcia, Angel Luna and Daniel Osornio, all top 20 finishers in the Stephenville meet.
“We have a chance, we just have to run our best,” said Mayes. “You definitely want to have everyone when you need them, but I know our kids will do their best to step up, an ht’s just what you have to do in life is step up when you get your chance.”
The junior varsity Bees have been dominant and run at 11 a.m., with the JV Jackets competing at 11:30.