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Lady Lions Cross Country wrap up season at District meet

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CEDAR PARK — The Lady Lions traveled to Cedar Park last Thursday to meet each of the eight schools in the UIL 25-5A District. All teams arrived with high hopes of taking home one of the top three spots in each division or one of the 10 individual spots for each division.

Varsity qualifying standards to regional are the top 3 teams and/or the top 10 individual girls qualify to the regional meet held on Monday, Oct. 23. All UIL sports are allowed four teams to qualify for postseason competition, with the exception of Cross Country.
In the Varsity Girls division, the Lady Lions finished 6th in the 8-team district with 122 points. Finishing just ahead of Hays with 136 and right behind Leander Rouse with 110. Sophomore

Reina Del Castillo was the first Lion to cross the finish line. Del Castillo started off hard and stuck with the leaders to place 10th overall with a time of 20:45 over the 3.1-mile course. In Del Castillo’s two-year high school career, she has now qualified in both years.

Next up was junior Adriana Rodriguez and freshman Addison Harrod, both of whom used valiant efforts to stay ahead of a group of runners all vying for the coveted top 10 places. It came down to the last mile with 16 runners all in position to finish in the top 10. Rodriguez ended up 13th overall with a time of 21:04 and Harrod finished 14th with a time of 21:09.

Del Castillo claimed All-District First Team honors with her finish, while Rodriguez and Harrod claimed All-District Second Team honors.

Junior Beth Key (23:45/41st) and freshman Natalie Gonzales (24:01/44th) were the fourth and fifth Lady Lions to cross the line. Key ran a consistent race while Gonzales used a strong second-half race to move up the entire race.

Seniors Ashley Ramirez (24:36/47th) and Melanie Rodriguez-Gonzalez (24:50/48th) were the sixth and seventh runners for the Varsity team. Ramirez’s time was a personal best for 5k.

“Our ladies did an amazing job today,” Lockhart Head Girls Coach Reuben Ortiz said. “Going into it, I felt like it was pretty tight team-wise for 2nd to 7th. Leander Rouse was 2nd last year and fell back to 5th this year, while Leander Gleen was 7th last year and jumped to 2nd. We were in the thick of it and finished 6th. We beat a strong Hays team that I thought would end up 3rd or 4th. But that’s why we run these races and not go off of stats. We won’t take a team to regionals but will be sending a two-time individual qualifier that will represent Lockhart. Our future is bright with Del Castillo and our freshman Varsity duo of Harrod and Gonzales, not to mention getting varsity returner Clarissa Martinez-Olvera back and others from injury and hopefully some much needed support from our JH pipeline.

“The sad part of this race is we are losing our seniors, Ashley Ramirez, Melanie Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Hannah Wheeler, Emma Forester, and Ryleigh Lindsey to graduation this coming spring. They still have track though, but their leadership will be missed next season. I am happy to know when our ladies leave our program, it’s not the end for them. They take more than just being in excellent health from us. Organization, mental toughness, pride for your community are just a few things they will carry on. UIL has funny rules for Varsity Cross Country. You are only allowed to run 7 on Varsity at District but need to declare 10 for Varsity and move your other 3 down to JV for that one race. We had such a big senior class, but each senior worked hard to make the varsity team which is a tremendous accomplishment.”
In the Junior Varsity Girls division, the Lady Lions placed 5th out of 8 teams. Giselle Corona was the first Lady Lion to cross the line finishing 15th overall with a time of 24:00 over the 5k course. Corona also claimed medal honors as one of the top 15 runners.

Next were seniors Mayra Varillas and Hannah Wheeler, who used a strong start to stay with the main group. Varillas finished with a 5k time of 24:27, while Wheeler ran a season best 5k time of 24:43. Freshman Melanie Garcia saved her best race for District as she hit a personal best of 25:11 for 5k and finished 22nd overall. Senior Emma Forester finished next with a season best of 25:38 with Junior Miana Romero (25:45/28th) right on her heels, finishing only 7 seconds behind Forester. Senior Ryleigh Lindsey made a push midway through the race to push into the top half of the field but finished the 5k race with a time of 26:27.

The next wave of Lady Lions came with sophomore Janae Torres (43rd/29:29), Junior’s Jayla Goodwin (45th/29:35) and Hadley Moorhead (48th/31:31) picking up key points in the team standings for the Lady Lions.

“This was the biggest race of the day and also the deepest,” Ortiz said. “You have a big JV field filled with from several regionally ranked teams as well as each teams 8, 9, and 10 varsity runners as I stated earlier due to UIL rules. I told some of the girls that a few of these JV teams in our District would qualify to regional in other weaker districts. That’s how good this race was. Overall, I was very impressed with freshman Melanie Garcia. She got a late start to the season but looks like she could really contribute next year.”
In the Freshman Division, the Lady Lions placed 3rd as a team, with each athlete receiving a team 3rd place medal. Katherine Silva-Garcia took top honors for the Lady Lions. Silva-Garcia used a consistent pace to stay with the lead group and just missed top 10 honors. Silva-Garcia finished 11th over the 2-mile course with a time of 17:00.

Next was Zoie Ledesma, as she worked her way throughout the race and finished 13th overall with a time of 17:37. The third and fourth Lady Lions were both newcomers, Kendra Mendoza (17:55) and Hailey Dittmer (20:32), who in their first race of the season, impressively finished 14th and 18th overall. Lockhart’s key fifth runner was Alanhi Herrera who ran a season best of 20:55 to finish 19th overall.

“These ladies came in and stepped up for the Lockhart program,” Ortiz said. “Silva-Garcia has worked hard all year and even ran a varsity race this year, so I knew she was going to be with the leaders today. Ledesma is a double sport athlete and has improved all year. Mendoza and Dittmer have tons of JH experience, so I knew they could handle today’s race and it was great to see Herrera finish the season on a high note.”
The UIL regional meet will be held on Oct. 23 and 24 at the University of Texas A&M at Corpus Christi. Class 5A will be held on Monday, Oct. 23 with sophomore Reina Del Castillo representing Lockhart in the 5A Girls’ race which starts at 8 a.m.

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