After a race on Sept. 19 at Salado, a woman approached Rudder cross country coaches Riaz Chohan and Mike Carrabine to discuss their freshman Miguel Tirado. The woman said she saw Tirado encouraging, praising and cheering on his competitors, and it brought her to tears.
“She said she’s never seen that before in a race like this, and she was really proud of him,” Chohan said. “It was a really good moment, and I was very proud of Miguel, because right there he showed how you lead the way, and Rudder is all about leading the way.”
Tirado and his teammates — seniors Eban Burkes and Victor Cabrera, junior Joseph Griffin and sophomore Kristian Mitchell — will compete in the District 19-5A meet Thursday at Burroughs Park in Tomball. A&M Consolidated, College Station and Brenham also will compete.
Rudder’s veteran runners want to break the 17-minute mark, and Chohan said their 5,000-meter times have improved to 17:03. For the last mile of the race, Chohan challenged his runners to pass three opponents each.
“A lot of times when you run you get lost in your head, and I want them to be active and try to pass at least three people in that last mile when they’re exhausted,” Chohan said.
Chohan said he has seen his team improve throughout the season. The Rangers have knocked off 30 seconds to a minute off their times and have won at least three medals at meets in Latexo, Anderson-Shiro and Salado and the Rattler Invitational.
“The little goals that I talk with them about and have set, when they reach them it’s really exciting to see,” Chohan said. “Even though they’re exhausted after a run, they ask, ‘Hey, Coach, what was my time?’ And let’s say it’s two minutes faster and I tell them, their faces just brighten up.”
Consol performing well despite youth
A&M Consolidated junior Nicolas Hilty used to look up to the seniors running ahead of him. Now he has a whole squad of Tigers emulating his actions.
“I just try to do what’s best for the team,” said Hilty, Consol’s captain. “I know some people might not agree with me. I previously took that as an offense, but now I understand that’s just part of being a leader. You have to take backlash.”
Hilty, sophomores Seth Goble, Brandon Topf and Sean Zhang and freshmen Christopher Ross, Russ Whitfield and Miles McGuire will compete for Consol’s boys Thursday.
“Generally, you have a core group of seniors that provide a lot of leadership and structure, and this year we didn’t have that,” Consol boys cross country coach Kurt Ramsey said. “The returning runners that we did have, the juniors and sophomores coming back, they set a great standard and work ethic. They set really high expectations, and our freshmen, since they’ve known nothing else, they’ve responded really well to that.”
Consol girls cross country coach Peter Martin also has a young group, but he said the Lady Tigers have done a good job of learning on the go this season.
“We’ve been able to dive into some of the nuances of racing and running, which for them I think has really helped, because every week we’re trying something different and learning,” Martin said. “While it’s a small team and a learning year, I think right now they’re anxious and ready to try something new, and I think they’ll find success with that [Thursday].”
Consol’s girls tied for first early in the season at Temple, ultimately taking second via the tiebreaker because it didn’t have a sixth runner. The Lady Tigers will have six runners at the 19-5A meet — senior Mara Johnston, juniors Samantha Rose, Claire McAdams, Allie Morris-Woods and Lindsey Cave and sophomore Sarah Hathorn.
“[Johnston] is our team leader and team captain,” Martin said. “She’s really kind of come on this year and I think will have her best race [Thursday].”
College Station hoping to win titles
At the beginning of summer workouts, the College Station girls set several goals, the first being to reclaim the district title. Now that the time is here, coach Josh Munson said he believes his team is ready.
“We’ve got a group of girls that worked really, really hard,” he said. “We’re excited to put our commitment and sacrifice to the test against the other teams.”
The Lady Cougars, who took third at last year’s 19-5A meet, will run seniors Grace Wu, Paola Calderon, Avery Seagraves and Krista Krueger, sophomore Esther Tong and freshmen Maddie Jones and Megan Roberts on Thursday. With a wide range of experience, Munson created a schedule that tested his runners early, and the Lady Cougars rose to the occasion. He said he was especially proud of how they ran in the elite division of the recent Nike South Invitational, racing as a pack and encouraging one another on the course.
College Station’s boys set goals just as high as the girls. The Cougars have plenty of depth, and it’s allowed them to run longer distances in practice — often as many as 13 miles in a single workout. The work is paying off, and coach Rodney Wellmann said his team’s 5K times have steadily dropped over the last few weeks.
“I knew going into this year that we had some depth, so we ran more than what we’ve run in probably four years — several weeks of probably 50 miles or more,” Wellmann said. “My hope is that we can have really good races at district, region and state, because we have a lot more mileage under our belt than what we’ve had the last three or four years.”
College Station’s veterans include seniors Joseph Benn, Sid Jayaraman and Karl Lindahl and junior Chance Miller, the program’s top JV runner last season. Sophomores Andrew Reichman and Luke Hull and freshman Ricardo Lopez round out the Cougar lineup.
The Cougars won a meet in Arlington despite missing key runners to injury, a display of their depth that gives them high hopes for the postseason.
“Looking at our region competition, I really feel like we’re a team that has as good a shot as Cedar Park to win the championship,” Wellmann said. “A year ago, we didn’t win district and we were third at region and we lost a couple really good runners, so here we are now with a legitimate shot to win district and a pretty good shot to win region, so that’s pretty exciting.”