LULING RUNS TO 8TH STRAIGHT 3A UIL CROSSCOUNTRY TITLE
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.
Luling coach Mike Barnett, embracing runner Buster Roberts, will retire at school year’s end.