Lions finish second, return to regionals

ABILENE — The Brownwood Lady Lions captured a third consecutive district cross country championship, and sixth in a seven-year span, with a 33-point team victory over Big Spring Monday at the 5-4A meet at Abilene Christian University’s Sherrod Park.

And after missing the regional meet last season, the Brownwood Lions will return to Lubbock this year as the second seed from 5-4A after their runner-up finish to state-ranked Big Spring.

The Lady Lions garnered 25 points with six runners finishing in the top 10, led by sophomore Izzy Lawrence (12:00.7) who placed second — just 35 hundredths of a second behind district champion Leandra Benton of Abliene Wylie (12:00.35).

Kyra Young came in third (12:09.11) trailed by Audrey Boren (fourth, 12:13.21), Trinity Buitron (seventh, 12:29.91), Breyle Sauseda (ninth, 12:35.68), Darby Crysler (10th, 12:37.95) and Esmeralda Hernandez (26th, 14:20.22).

“It was a business-like effort today for the girls I felt like,” said Brownwood cross country head coach Don Hood. “Our top six were all in the top 10 so they competed well. The course really challenging, a lot of hills and the grass was pretty thick, it was a good course to run before the regional meet because it’s pretty similar to that.

“We knew we were the best team coming in but you still have to go through it, and I was really pleased. We didn’t rest at all, we ran really hard last week because our goal is to try and get to the state meet. District is a step on the way but we knew we had a good enough team to win it even with dead legs. That showed today because we didn’t have a lot of finish in us.”

The Lions finished with 43 points, which trailed only Big Spring (43) and placed ahead of Snyder (73), Abilene Wylie (84) and Sweetwater (139).

Jason Sanchez led the charge with a fourth-place time of (16:52.98) followed by Logan Dick (seventh, 17:04.29), Damian Cisneros (ninth, 17:18.17), Daniel Martinez (11th, 17:27.54), Jack Robinson (12th, 17:33.37), Josh Estrada (13th, 17:34.82) and Joe Gosch (14th, 17:35.14).

“Last year this same group of guys didn’t get out of district,” Hood said. “They worked so hard to go back to regionals and they almost won a district championship, which is really incredible for them. This is by far the best effort we’ve given as a group this year to be within 10 points of Big Spring, which is eighth or ninth in the state.

“We almost stole the race. We were hoping we could get our top five ahead of Big Spring’s fourth guy and we almost pulled that off. We had a couple of guys that went out too hard and faded but that’s just part of it. They still held on and ran well as a group. And Jason Sanchez ran his race of the year. He’s been our sixth or seventh guy and had a little bit of a slump going, but he broke out today.”

Both the Lions and Lady Lions will compete at the Region I-4A meet at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock on Oct. 29. The top four regional teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to state at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock Nov. 12.

“I wasn’t real confident going into the regional meet but looking at what we did today, I feel like if we have two more good weeks of practice we may be up in the hunt for the fourth, fifth or sixth spot,” Hood said of the Lions. “But I think it’s going to be the team or nobody. I don’t think we have an individual that’s at that state level yet. But if all seven can run 30 seconds faster, which is doable, we might make a run at it.

“The girls have to heal up. They’re a little broken down and dead-legged right now. We’ll probably work hard three more times between now and then and try and have a little more rest days than hard days. The girls will have a chance to be in the top three or four if we run to our potential and I’d love to see that happen.

“I think Kyra and Izzy both have a great chance to go as individuals regardless of the team. But if we can get Trinity, Darby and Breyle to move up a little bit and Audrey continues to improve like she has, I think we have a great chance at qualifying for state.”

In junior varsity action Monday, both the Lions and Lady Lions earned district team championships with perfect 15-point scores.

“We had the top five finishers in both JV races and that’s pretty rare,” Hood said. “That says a lot about the quality and depth of the kids we have and how hard they work. The future looks pretty good.”

Competing for the JV Lady Lions were Taylar Kinzler (first, 14:53.42), Macy Smith (second, 15:37.02), Aubrie Harris (third, 15:41.44), Alexis Dorsey (fourth, 15:43.4), Alyssa Couey (fifth, 15:44.9), Haylee Allgood (seventh, 15:53.94), Bailey Bigham (ninth, 16:15.96), Jade Christiansen (10th, 16:18.97), Khloe Tobien (11th, 16:39.02), Aubrey Bigham (12th, 16:39.04), Ariel Aguirre (13th, 16:45.01), Julia Nash (14th, 17:02.53) and Evelyn Perez (15th, 17:13.44)

The JV Lions were comprised of Conner Fitzgerald (first, 18:22.49), Enrique Hernandez (second, 18:47.21), Simeon Bates (third, 19:14.26), Kyler Judkins (fourth, 19:15.01), Dylan Edwards (fifth, 19:35.23), Zack Smith (eighth, 19:49.93), Jesse Sanchez (ninth, 20:00), Hunter McMillan (14th, 21:40.05), Garrett Ellis (16th, 21:55.75), Huaihan Shan (17th, 22:11.22), Sebastian Sanchez (18th, 22.31.32), Aaron Menchaca (19th, 22:36.68), Steve Lopez (20th, 22:40.28), Noe Ciniceros (24th, 24:35.21), Juan Zamora (25th, 25:12.62), Santos Espinosa (25th, 25:14.95), John Hammond (28th, 27:36.7) and Clay Townsend (29th, 27:37.81).