Lion harriers rank fifth at Regional Meet

Regional Champion Nate Moore advances to State race Saturday

When Lockhart’s Boys Cross Country team stepped to the start line last Saturday they had one goal in mind. The goal was to finish in the top three out of 24 teams competing in the Region IV-AAAA Regional, meet held at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio. When the race was over the scores were posted and they showed Lockhart in fifth place, just out of range to qualify for this weekend’s State Meet.

Cedar Park won the Regional title with 76 points, running in a tight pack for most of the race. Boerne Champion was the runner-up with 99 points, mostly on the strength of having two runners finish in the top 10. La Joya Juarez Lincoln was a first-time qualifier to State, grabbing third place with 167 points. Mercedes was fourth with 174 points, while Lockhart rounded out the top five with an even 200 points.

This was the first time that Lockhart has failed as team to make to the State Meet in back-to-back years since 1988 and 1989. It appeared at the two-mile mark that Lockhart was in position to place either second or third. All five of the Lockhart harriers were in the top 40 and running well.

However, over the last mile of the race Lockhart faded and the points were accumulated quickly, possibly due to the fast and furious early pace that the Lions ran during the first mile of the race.

Saturday’s Regional Meet was the first time the Lion harriers ran at the National Shooting Complex course, and it was difficult for the Lions to judge how fast to go during the first mile. That early pace appeared to have a major effect on the performance over the last mile.

Undaunted by the new course, Lion senior Nate Moore once again was the top finisher for Lockhart. Moore won the race and was crowned Regional Individual Champion, completing the 3.12-mile course in 15:21.

When the race began Moore joined the lead group of 20 or so runners at the front. As the race progressed that group dwindled to just two runners by the two-mile mark, with Moore accompanied by Cedar Park Vista Ridge harrier Adam Waldum.

With less than a mile to go, Waldum started to pull away from Moore and looked to be on his way to the Regional title. Moore would have no part of that, and pulled within five meters with 100 meters to go, before he used a tremendous kick to pass Waldum for the victory in the final 10 meters of the race.

“I was so proud of Nate,” Head Coach Scott Hippensteel said of  this season’s indisputable team star. “He worked a long time to be able to perform like that in such an important race.”

Moore’s victory marked the 37th individual Regional Championship for a Lockhart distance runner since 1992. Moore became the tenth Lockhart runner ever to win the Regional Cross Country title.

The win for Moore was the tenth in 11 races this fall. Moore’s only loss was on Oct. 15, 2011, at the Arkansas Invitational, where he finished 12th overall. With the win Moore qualifies for the State Meet as an individual. This will be the 22nd straight season that a Lockhart runner has run at the UIL State Meet.

Lockhart Junior Robert Uhr was the second finisher for Lockhart , placing 36th overall with a time of 16:40. Uhr had a great season for Lockhart. On Saturday, Uhr was running strong and in the top 10 until the two-mile mark where he suffered severe cramps which slowed him dramatically over the last mile.

Junior Nick Avey may have run his best race of the year. Avey ran to a place of 37th in 16:41 on Saturday.

“Nick has shown dramatic improvement throughout the fall and ran an awesome race Saturday,” Hippensteel said.

Senior Joe Anchondo was the number four runner for Lockhart. Anchondo placed 57th in 17:14. Anchondo had a strong final mile on Saturday as he passed over 20 runners down the stretch.

“We were so fortunate to have Joe this season,” Hippensteel said. “He had been hurt during his junior year and could have easily given up, but he showed what determined young man he is by coming back and really contributing to our success.”

Junior JD Amaya became Lockhart’s number five man for the first time all season. Amaya placed 68th in 17:24. Amaya also had one of his best races of the fall last Saturday.

Senior Eli Spring, who had a great senior year had a difficult race on Saturday. Spring finished in 91st with a time of 17:51. Spring ran very well in the first two miles where he was in the top 30 overall.

“Eli was quiet, but a strong leader for the team this fall,” Hippensteel said. “He will be really missed next year.”

The number sever runner for Lockhart on Saturday was sophomore Erik Moreno. Moreno placed 96th with a time 18:00. Moreno was the Junior Varsity District Champion last week. The Regional Meet gave Moreno a real taste of what Varsity running is all about and will prepare him for the fall of 2012.

The Lockhart Lions ended the season last Saturday with a record of 162 wins and 14 losses. The team won three invitationals and two dual meets along with the District Championship. All in all it was a great year.

“I was extremely pleased with this team,” Hippensteel said. “They had a wonderful work ethic and were a pleasure to coach. We, the coaches, would like to say thank you to the parents who made so many sacrifices for this year’s team. Thank you also to the community of Lockhart for your encouragement and support of the program. Thank you to both the City and State Parks for making your facilities available throughout the fall.”

The final Cross Country race of the year will be on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock. There, Moore will race at 10:20 a.m. in hopes of ending his final season of high school cross country as the Class 4A State Champion. Visitors are encouraged to attend the race, but should be aware that parking can be troublesome, so early arrival is recommended. There is a $5 charge for admission to Old Settler’s Park for the State Cross Country finals.

(Courtesy of Scott Hippensteel)

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