LUBBOCK — Forty-five Ellis County cross country athletes toed the starting line at their respective UIL regional championships on Monday and 11 outpaced the field to earn state championship bids.
The Life Waxahachie Mustangs — consisting of William Horton (13th, 16:46.31), Samuel Rosales (15th, 16:51.82), Jacob Solis (16th 16:52.58), Nicholas Rosales (50th, 17:40.10), Jeremiah Johnson (56th, 17:49.73), Wade Beeson (74th, 18:12.22) and Nathan Roman-Valdez (89th, 18:27.45) — became the first cross country team to qualify for the UIL 4A state championship in school history.
Led by top-20 finishes by Horton (13th), Rosales (15th) and Solis (16th), the Mustangs finished as the runners-up to San Elizario, who quite literally ran away with the UIL 4A Region I championship defeating Life Waxahachie 15 points to 139. The Mustangs beat Andrews High School by two points in the 179-competitor field at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.
The remainder of the county’s state qualifiers punched their tickets as individuals.
Waxahachie senior Brandon Gilliland (9th, 16:17.99) qualified in the 5A boys’ Region II championship (5,000 meters) held at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie.
In Lubbock, Midlothian Heritage freshmen Rachel Allen (6th, 12:27.91) and Renee Elliott (8th, 12:28.17) in the 4A girls’ 3,200-meter run and sophomore Ethen Agreda (22nd, 10 in the boys’ 5,000-meter race.
The state championships will be held at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock on Saturday, Nov. 4. The 5A boys are second off of the line at 9:10 a.m., while the 4A girls are second to last to 2:40 p.m. and 4A boys wrap up the competition at 3:10 p.m.
In Grand Prairie, Red Oak’s lone qualifier, Zach Heimbuch, finished the 5,000-meter race in 61st place with a time of 17:44.96.
The Waxahachie Lady Indian team, which won its first district championship in school history last week, finished in 14th place in the Region II Championships and two spots behind 12th place Midlothian.
Sophomore Keila Finnestad paced the Lady Panthers with a time of 20:17.56 for a 29th-place finish, while Emma Curry nabbed the only other top-50 finish for either team (45th) in the 174-runner field with a time of 20:52.81.
For the Waxahachie boys, Kirby Chandler (28th, 17:03.54) and Brandon Moore (48th, 17:27.04) joined Gilliland in the top-50 for the 6th-place Indians. The Panther boys finished in 13th place and were led by Tanner Henderson’s 20th-place time of 16:44.23.
In the 4A division, the Heritage Jaguar boys finished in 9th place with 249 points — 110 points behind state-qualifying Life Waxahachie. Tyler Walker joined Agreda as the second Jaguar to finish in the top 50 of the 179-racer field with a time of 17:36.16, good enough for 47th place. Amir Derouen just missed the top-50 with his 51st-place time of 17:36.16.