LUL­ING RUNS TO 8TH STRAIGHT 3A UIL CROSS­COUN­TRY TI­TLE

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORTS - By Brom Hoban

Lul­ing’s ROUND ROCK — cross-coun­try le­gacy con­tin­ues to grow.

Mo­ments af­ter the Ea­gles sealed their eighth straight Class 3A state cham­pi­onship, coach Mike Bar­nett put ev­ery­thing into per­spec­tive.

“They are one of the all­time greats in the his­tory of Texas,” he said. “This is a team that coaches will look up 30, 40 years from now. They’re that good.”

Bar­nett didn’t ques­tion that El Paso Tornillo would be the big­gest threat to Lul­ing con­tin­u­ing its state cham­pi­onship streak head­ing into Satur­day’s Univer­sity In­ter­scholas­tic League’s state cross-coun­try meet at Old Set­tlers Park on Satur­day.

The big ques­tion was: Could Lul­ing beat the heat, hills and hu­mid­ity to write his­tory by ac­com­plish­ing some­thing no other school had done — win eight straight cross-coun­try cham­pi­onships? Only Hum­ble King­wood comes close, with six straight in the 1990s.

The 3A boys race was one of the last of the day, and a light breeze had kicked up, help­ing some­what to quell the un­sea­son­ably warm weather. With tem­per­a­tures push­ing 80 de­grees and high hu­mid­ity, Bar­nett knew his squad would have a chal­lenge.

Se­nior Buster Roberts and sopho­more Ed­win Za­mu­dio were part of a tight pack go­ing through mile 1 with Kevin Baez, a ju­nior at Van­der­bilt In­dus­trial, a step ahead at the mile mark, passed in 5:00.

“I was feel­ing pretty good,” Roberts said. “We passed through mile 2 at just un­der 10 min­utes. “With half a mile to go, Kevin just pulled away from us. But I fig­ured we’d win.”

Baez won the race in 15:39, with Roberts and Za­mu­dio cross­ing the line sec­ond and third, re­spec­tively. Both timed in 15:44. Se­nior Leonardo Reyna (16:02) and ju­niors Johnny Cas­tañon (16:22) and Thomas Roberts (16:57) helped the Ea­gles to a con­vinc­ing win, best­ing Tornillo by 55 points. Pi­lot Point took third.

“I just wrote the last page of a 31-year old chap­ter. And it couldn’t have ended with a bet­ter team,” said Bar­nett, who said he would be re­tir­ing at the end of the school year.

In 5A ac­tion, Cedar Park se­nior Tra­vian Holst helped boost the team to its first podium fin­ish in five years. Holst ran 15:54 on the 5K course, good for 21st place, with ju­nior Alden Yi plac­ing 33rd in 16:08, help­ing to pull the Timberwolves to a third­place fin­ish. Lu­cas Love­joy won the 5A ti­tle, ahead of sec­ond-place Grapevine.

“We did just what coach told us to do,” Holst said. “We got out re­ally fast for good po­si­tion­ing. I went to the first mile in 4:49 and 10:02 at 2 miles. It was pretty hot and hu­mid.

“It was re­ally hard to breathe, es­pe­cially go­ing up the hills in the sec­ond mile — my legs were on fire! But the third mile we were able to re­ally push it and make a move.”

Cedar Park coach Ja­son Gren­nier added, “This is our first year back since 2012, so I’m re­ally happy with our third place fin­ish and to keep the tra­di­tion go­ing.”

Notes: Ju­nior Bobby Holt of Drip­ping Springs ran 15:30 to help the Tigers take sixth place in 5A . ... Run­ning as an in­di­vid­ual in 5A, LBJ ju­nior Cameron Kleiman placed eighth in 15:33 . ... Rac­ing for West­lake, se­nior Matthew Kear­ney ran 15:13, good for sixth place in 6A.

JOHN GUTIERREZ / FOR AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Lul­ing coach Mike Bar­nett, em­brac­ing run­ner Buster Roberts, will re­tire at school year’s end.

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