Cross Country finishes ninth at state

Juniors Jared Ballou and Will Mather lead the pack at districts, where cinco finished third place overall. The team later went to State and finished their season with ninth place.

Juniors Jared Ballou and Will Mather lead the pack at districts, where cinco finished third place overall. The team later went to State and finished their season with ninth place.

Joe Goodwin, staff writer

Varsity cross-country went to Round Rock, Texas on Nov. 9 to compete in the state meet. The team had seven runners finish in the top 100: juniors Sam Fuqua, Jared Ballou, Fazal Hussain, Will Mather, Grant Meloche and Matt Gaikema and freshman Nathan Gift. Grant Meloche placed highest individually of all the cross country runners in 40th , followed by Jared Ballou in 62nd  place.

 

The team finished in ninth place overall, one place lower than they received last year. Head varsity coach George Beasley thought the team did well, despite losing, senior Keo Neshyba, and having no seniors on the team. At Regionals, varsity finished third, losing to both Cypress Woods and Strake Jesuit but responded at state by placing higher than both teams.

 

“Strake Jesuit and Cy Woods beat us in Regionals each of the past two years,” Fuqua said. “It felt amazing beating Strake Jesuit, who was expected to come in the top two or three at state.”

 

Throughout any sports season, teams come together. The cross-country team faced adversity with no seniors on the team, but leaders emerged and everyone started believing in one another.

 

“We definitely got closer, and throughout the season we bonded and became a team instead of a group of individuals,” Fuqua said.

 

Cross-Country is considered an intense sport and runners must be in peak physical condition to perform. Training takes place over the entire summer; runners wake up early to workout and run. Beasley believes this training pays off later on during the season, especially Regionals and State.

 

“The summer training is the most critical time of the season,” Beasley said. “Those who do work in the summer are those that will be most successful.”

 

The team received a big boost from runner Meloche, a three year swimmer at Cinco Ranch began running cross-country this year after becoming interested in the sport through triathlons.

 

“Coach Patterson my swim coach makes us do a triathlon every year and as a freshman I did a triathlon and my love for running just really grew,” Meloche said.

 

The experience Meloche gained as a junior will be helpful towards his senior year. After finishing 40th individually in state, he looks to come back stronger and place even better at state.

 

“The team overall wants to finish top three in state and individually I want to finish top 10 in state [next year],” Meloche said.

 

Before the season began the team was dealt a major blow. Senior Keo Neshyba was diagnosed with IT band syndrome, which causes inflammation of the fascia and caused him to miss the entire season. Though his experience was missed, Neshyba believes that the team filled in admirably in his place.

 

“I was truly impressed with the way the rest of my team reacted to my streak of injuries over the season,”Neshyba said. “Without me as a front runner, the guys knew they had to make a great effort to form a pack that would consistently improve each race until state, and that is exactly what they did.”

 

The team had three returning runners from state. This experience was critical and helped prepare the runners for what to expect.

 

“We knew the course and the hard parts of the course,” Fuqua said. “It’s a hard course and we knew how to run it.”

 

Next year’s team will have six returning seniors and one returning freshman. The coaches believe that with everyone gaining a year of experience the team has a chance to be special next year.

 

“The experience they gained last year will be beneficial next year. From top to bottom they will be back,” Beasley said.