Lion harriers achieve District domination
Cross Country team earns 22nd consecutive championship
By LPR Staff
For as long as the members of this year’s LHS Cross Country teams have been alive, the phrase “Lockhart X/C” has been synonymous with excellence. In fact, the last time the Lions failed to win a district championship, not a member of the current Lions’ Cross
Country team was alive.
Unlike prior seasons, the Lions did not produce a single “star runner,” expected to lead the team to championships. Instead, a handful of Lions traded wins and leadership positions as the season progressed, culminating in an unconventional, but nonetheless sound, victory during the District 17-4A finals at Lockhart City Park on Saturday, Oct. 31.
“For the first time in the last 22 years, a freshman was the first Lion harrier to cross the finish line,” Head Coach Scott Hippensteel said. “It could not have come at a better time.”
Freshman Robert Uhr began the season among the top 10 Lion runners, and has moved his way up through the pecking order all season, Hippensteel said.
With less than one mile to go in Saturday’s championship race, Uhr turned up the heat, passing his sophomore teammate Nate Moore to finish the race in second place overall, just behind Elgin’s Zachery Candelas.
With a pace of 5:36 per mile, Uhr covered the course in 18:52.
Moore placed third overall, coming in just four seconds behind Uhr.
The pair of underclassmen, who have traded wins and leadership positions throughout the season, will have the chance to extend their friendly competition further on Saturday, Nov. 7, as they compete in the Regional Finals in Houston.
Junior Mack O’Neill finished 10th overall, becoming the third Lion to earn first team All-District honors. O’Neill ran a strong race and finished with a time of 19:34.
A pair of Lion seniors cemented the Lockhart team championship with their 12th and 14th place finishes. David Dihn and Roy Garcia helped each other through the race and finished with times of 19:44 and 19:54 respectively.
Senior Noah Tunningley finished 21st, with a time of 20:11.
“Noah’s time would have been good enough to be among the top three runners on for other district schools,” Hippensteel noted about the Lion’s final performance in a district race.
Sophomore Bobby Dihn rounded out scoring for the Lions, completing the 5,440-meter course around Lockhart City Park in 21:37 to place 39th overall.
“I was very pleased with they way our runners battled for the win during the race,” Hippensteel said. “I liked the way they finished during the last mile; they were a very determined group of kids that everyone in Lockhart can be proud of for their outstanding effort.”
All told, the Lions scored 41 points in the meet, earning a 16-point victory over a formidable team from Lehman High.
“The young Lockhart team knew all season that they would have their work cut out for them… against the Lobos,” Hippensteel said. “I believe this was easily the most balanced district championship team race I have ever seen since coming to Lockhart.”
By balanced, Hippensteel means each of the seven competing schools placed at least one runner in the top 11, and that although the Lions’ victory was sound, it was by no means a “blow-out.”
The Lobos earned 57 points for their second-place ranking. The Manor Mustangs scored 99 points to secure the third spot in the Regional Finals by edging out the Elgin Wildcats, who scored 101. The Hays Rebels placed fifth, with 106, while the San Marcos Rattlers and the Del Valle Cardinals completed team scoring with 123 and 173 respectively.
Lockhart’s Junior Varsity squad also earned their 22nd consecutive team title, scoring 27 points to defeat the Lehman Lobos, who scored 40. The Manor Mustangs scored 55 points while the Hays Rebels brought up the rear with 100 points.
Lion sophomore Joseph Anchondo led the way for the Lions, placing second overall with a time of 20:42.
“Joseph is such a competitive runner, I wish we could bottle his spirit and put it in every runner at Lockhart,” Hippensteel said after the race.
In his best outing of the season, sophomore Eli Spring placed third overall, covering the course in 20:49. Another sophomore, Samuel Post, placed fourth in 21:02.
Freshman Nicholas Avey also gave his best performance of the season, Hippensteel said, finishing the race in 21:24 to place seventh overall. Senior Carlos Anchondo finished 11th overall, in 21:37, earning Hippensteel’s praise in the final race of his high school career.
“Carlos improved every week this year,” Hippensteel said. “I really hope that he continues to run, because it would be fun to see just how much he will become in the future.”
Freshman Xavier Espinosa closed Lion scoring in 26th place with a time of 23:06.
In the Freshman Boys division, Lockhart finished second overall.
Manor won the race with 19 points, while the Lions scored 55 points, and Lehman ended up in third with a score of 60.
Derrick Hendricks led the way for the Lion harriers, running what Hippensteel called a “very strong race,” and placing second overall. Hendricks covered the 3,085-meter course in 11:31.
Andrew Peters and Mario Maciel placed eighth and ninth 12:07 and 12:08 respectively.
Several runners made their debut race Saturday. They included JD Amaya, who placed 17th in 12:41; Trent Till, who placed 19th in 12:55; Francisco Mendez, who placed 24th in 13:45; Zane Schnautz, who placed 25th in 14:06; Daniel Cruz, who finished 27th in 16:14; and Ryne Lehman, who placed 28th in 20:51.
On Saturday, the Varsity Lions will travel to Houston to compete in the Region III Championships, in hopes of earning their fourth consecutive Regional Championship. The odds are in the Lions’ favor. Although 24 teams compete at the regional level, the Lions have brought home the Regional Championship in 12 out of their 16 appearances at the regional level.
provided by Scott Hippensteel)