Lions finish season State Runners-Up
The Lockhart Boys Cross Country team claimed the State Runner-up trophy last Saturday at the UIL State Championship in Round Rock. The ranking marked the fifth time in the last ten seasons that Lockhart has finished second at the State Championship race.
Cedar Park Vista Ridge, the early season favorite to win the title, was the team the Lions had been keeping their ey
e on all season long. However, the Lions soundly beat Vista Ridge, who placed seventh, while Big Spring High School, who had been ranked as high as fifth place, came along on Saturday to steal the show and win the State Title.
Big Spring won the championship race with a team score of just 47 points. Lockhart runners scored 80 points, while Mesquite Poteet claimed the Bronze Medals as they scored 99 points.
Lockhart was led by junior Rory Tunningly, who ran an outstanding race. Tunningly ran the 5,000-meter (3.1 miles) in just 15:40. Tunningly placed third in the team scoring for Lockhart.
“I liked the way Rory has competed at races during the final month of the season,” Coach Scott Hippensteel said.
Senior Nick Yunkun, who has been a solid, consistent runner for the Lion harriers over the past four years scored 10 points for the Lions. Yunkun ran a time of 16:13.
Sophomore James Bonn moved sharply up the Lockhart depth chart during the final month of the season. Bonn was the third Lockhart finisher in the State race, placing 17th in 16:21.
Senior Jonathan Fitzgerald lost his shoe in the first mile of Saturday”s race when he was in the top 10 runners overall. Fitzgerald stopped, put his shoe back on and still managed to finish 23rd. Fitzgerald ran a time of 16:30. Completing the top five Lockhart runners and the scoring was Senior Clay Culpepper. Culpepper ran a strong race to finish 27th in a time of 16:36.
Senior Sean Smith and Freshmen Rian Gonzales were the best sixth and seventh runners any team had in Texas. Smith placed 30th with a time of 16:42, while Gonzales placed 31st out of the 84 team runners with a time of 16:44. Gonzales time was faster than any seventh man, in not only class 4A, but also in class 5A with only one exception – the man from The Woodlands High School who ran 16:33.
Lockhart had another great year in 2006. They began the season on Aug. 26 by winning the Lockhart Invitational with just 20 points. Two weeks later, on Sept. 16, they traveled to College Station where the placed seventh the Texas A&M Invitational.
The following week they competed in San Antonio and placed third overall out of over 145 high school in the UTSA Invitational. On Oct. 7, Lockhart traveled to The Woodlands to compete in the Nike South Invitational where they ran against most of the best cross country teams in the southern United States. Lockhart placed a very respectable fifth in the race.
On Oct. 14, the Lions traveled to Fayetteville, Ark. where they placed fourth out of over 120 high school teams in the Chili Pepper Invitational. In the Chili Pepper race, Lockhart defeated the eventual large-school State Champions from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
On Oct. 28, the Lions hosted the District 26-AAAA Championships at the Lockhart City Park. For the 19th consecutive season, the Lions brought home the title. The next week on Nov. 4, the team traveled back to San Antonio where they won their ninth Region IV Regional Championship in the last 14 seasons. Finally, last Saturday in Rock Rock, Lockhart finished as the 2006 State Runner-Up. The Lion harriers finished the year with a record of 98 wins and three losses against 4A competition. Two of the losses came against Cedar Park Vista Ridge back in September. However, the Lions went on to defeat Vista Ridge the last three times they met, including Regional and State.
The team and coaches would like to thank the many people who helped to make the season another great success. We look forward to 2007 when Lockhart could win their 20th consecutive District Championship and so much more.
(Courtesy of Scott Hippensteel)