MIDLOTHIAN — Midlothian and Midlothian Heritage High Schools placed nine athletes as top runners in last Thursday's 4A, 5A, and 6A James Smith Invitational at Camp Hoblitzelle.
Jaguar UIL 4A freshmen distance specialists Renee Elliott and Rachel Allen finished No. 1 and No. 3 while senior Jewlia Rattanavong, junior Alexandra Sackett, and freshman Emilee Page graced the top 50.
"This is probably the hardest course we're going to run overall. it's super hilly and has all different terrains," said Tammie Floyd, the head cross country coach at Midlothian Heritage. "Some of the girls ran in the 5A-6A race because we wanted to run the three miles because when they get to district, they'll only run two. Castleberry beat us in the boys [races]. Last week we beat them and they were only six points behind us. It's going to be a real back-and-forth this season. I've got a young team and they're doing well."
The Jaguar girls team finished third overall and the boys' team finished second in the 4A division with the help of Kyle Penwarden (2nd, 17:25), Ethan Agreda (3rd, 17:29) and Tyler Walker (17:57.9).
Midlothian's varsity boys placed third out of 20 teams and were edged slightly by 6A South Grand Prarie High School.
Tanner Henderson, the fastest Midlothian male runner to cross the finish line, posted a 16:36.2 run time.
Midlothian's Panther girls, which finished second behind only San Angelo Central High School, used the meet to improve a third consecutive time since placing eighth at the Cowtown Challenge in Fort Worth.
Keila Finnestad, who finished fifth fewer than 10 seconds behind Midlothian Heritage's Allen and San Angelo Central senior Bailey Kinney, finished in 20:30.8. Abby Powers' eighth place, 20:38.6 and Katherine Yarbrough's 19th place 22:12.59 finishes placed inside the top 20.
Katie Wheeless (21st, 22:28.2), Mariah Griffin (30th, 23:27.68), and Cheyenne Corbitt (43rd, 24:09.9) finished as the meet's best 50 runners.
According to Joey Foster, Midlothian's head coach, his runners are only beginning to scrape the ceiling of their potential.
"It's a very difficult course — a lot of uneven terrain that goes from rock to concrete to grass. It's a brutal course," he said. "I'm excited about what today brought because you can just about take a minute off your time — give or take 30 seconds — on a flat course. This team is young. I have two seniors on my varsity squad. Two. The rest are sophomores and freshmen. I'm a little older with the boys but they have the experience. Both teams have the chance to exceptionally well, especially after what they did today."
Both schools will compete in the Cleburne Yellow Jacket Invitational at 6 a.m. Sept. 15 at Buddy Stewart Park.