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September 04, 2019

MEET MASTERY: Meridian girls win back-to-back team titles

in Cross Country

BLUM – For the second straight week to open the 2019 Texas high school cross country season, the Meridian girls bought home the gold.

Led by senior Dakota Cassidy’s silver medal performance, the Lady Jackets captured their second consecutive team championship at the Blum Invitational at Segars Ranch last Wednesday. Meridian finished with 69 points to edge 2018 state qualifying Lipan with 73 while host Blum placed a distant third with 100.

“I’m super excited about this fantastic group of athletes who are pushing each other to be better and better every meet,” said Meridian cross country head coach Jill Kendall, who will take her runners to Rex Callicut Park to compete in the Keene Invitational Wednesday morning. “Winning back-to-back first plaques in the Varsity Girls Division is an amazing accomplishment. We just edged out Lipan who went to state last year as well.”

Cassidy ran the two-mile course in 13:42.66 to finish second just behind gold medalist Kaylee Little of Lipan with a time of 13:40.14. Also placing in the top 15 for Meridian were senior Mallory Paruszewski in ninth, followed by junior Norah Lira in 15th. Freshman Cambree White (18th), junior Faith Paruszewski (30th), senior Reese Errington (39th) also turned in strong performances to finish in the top 40.

“I have 10 high school girls running cross country for only seven spots on varsity,” Kendall said. “All 10 are capable of running at the varsity level.”

In the boys division, Whitney ran away with the team title, while Meridian did not compete as a team. But individually, De’Marius Parks finished in 24th place, followed by Zak Dirske (52nd) and Cody Warren (55th).

“We are hopeful that we will have a full team for the boys,” Kendall said. “Right now, our three senior boys, who all qualified to regionals last year, continue to work hard and get better.”


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WINNING AT ALL LEVELS: Clifton running depth strong at Valley Mills

in Cross Country

VALLEY MILLS – With the varsity girls leading the way, the Clifton boys and girls high school and middle school cross country teams turned in strong performances at the Valley Mills Invitational held at the high school campus last Saturday morning.

Senior Daniella Gaona captured the individual silver medal to lead the Lady Cubs to a second place finish as a team with 65 points, well behind meet champion McGregor with 25 and ahead of host Valley Mills with 76.

“We wrapped up the weekend of sports in Valley Mills with a solid showing  at their Invitational,” said Clifton cross country head coach Ryan Hunt, who had varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams competing. “We had three teams finish in the top three of the team standings. We also came away with eight individual medalists for the meet.”

Sophomores Kasandra Gaona (19th) and Kamryn Zint (20th) contributed top 20 runs, followed by juniors Autumn Estrada (31st) and Katelyn Hunt (34th). For the Clifton varsity boys, sophomore Jorge Rodriguez led the way with a 12th place finish, followed by freshman Payton Urbanovsky (34th) and junior Jordan Rodriguez (36th). In the Junior Varsity Division, Lady Cub sophomores Katie Jewel (12th) and Brianna Prescher (15th) placed in the top 15.

The Clifton middle school boy won the team title, led by Eddie Gaona (1st), Andres Devora (2nd) and Clay Kennedy (3rd), while the Lady Cubs placed third as a team behind strong runs by Laylah Gaona (8th) and Jocelyn Ramirez (9th).

With only three days rest, the Clifton boys and girls cross country teams will compete at the Keene Invitational Wednesday morning at Rex Callicut Park.

“The next high school meet in Keene will be a big test for us,” Hunt said. “All of the teams from our district will be running there so we can see where we stack up.”

Photos courtesy of SANDRA VASQUEZ GAONA

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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