Lady Lions Cross-Country round out non-district slate at Chili-Pepper Invite


The Lady Lions cross-country team journeyed to Fayetteville, Arkansas to compete at the Arkansas Chili-Pepper Invite. This meet has become one of the most well-known meets in the nation due to its course and it being the host site to numerous collegiate national cross-country championships. The Lady Lions were entered in Open Division and out of 89 teams entered, they placed 14th as a team.
Sophomore Reina Del Castillo led the Lady Lions over the two-mile course. Del Castillo used a strong start to get ahead of the over 600-plus runners and stick with the top pack. Del Castillo finished in 43rd place with a time of 13:29.

Junior Adriana Rodriguez was just 14 seconds off and 14 places behind Del Castillo as Rodriguez finished in 67th place with a time of 13:43.

Perhaps the best race of the day came from freshman Addison Harrod. Harrod got off to a slow start, but by the halfway point had moved up into the top 120. By the end of the race, Harrod broke free and placed less than one second behind teammate Adriana Rodriguez. Harrod ended up in 69th overall with a time of 13:44. Junior Beth Key and senior Melanie Rodriguez-Gonzales gave the Lady Lions the 4-5 punch needed to move up in team scoring. Key finished 166th with a time of 14:43, while Rodriguez-Gonzales finished 201st in 15:06.

Lockhart push (6th and 7th runners) were freshman Natalie Gonzales (237th/15:24) and senior Ashley Ramirez (238th/15:24). The senior pride came roaring in with Marya Varillas (281st/15:47), Emma Forester (341st/16:14), Hannah Wheeler (361st/16:25), and Ryleigh Lindsey (364th/16:28). Junior Hadley Moorhead (530th/19:50) rounded out the team for the Lady Lions.

“This was definitely a day of surprises,” Lockhart Head Girls Coach Reuben Ortiz said. “We were told on the starting line that the race was being moved down from a 3.1-mile race to a 2-mile race due to heat. It shocked us all because it was only low 80’s but we have to understand that this is a different state, not Texas, and many of these runners were from Kansas, Missouri, etc., and they are not used to these temperatures. So, everything we talked about strategy wise was thrown out and they had to adjust quickly. Overall, Reina is looking stronger and stronger every day but more importantly she is getting smarter.

“Newcomers Addision and Natalie got shoved around pretty bad with those massive numbers, but they didn’t quit. It was quite the learning experience. Harrod probably had the strongest race of her young season. Harrod is like a sponge when it comes to training and strategy, she soaks in everything you tell her and does it. Ashley has had an up and down season but looked great today with our other seniors competing very well.”

Next up for Lockhart will be the District meet. It will be held next Thursday, Oct. 12 at Cedar Park High School.


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