Brazos girls take third

Cougars finish 10th to start the cross country season

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Cross country season is in full swing for the Brazos Cougars, who participated in the Incarnate Word Academy Meet in Houston last weekend.

The girls' squad got off on the right foot, earning third place with six runners in the top 35.

On the boys' side, a 10th-place finish was notched thanks in part to their top returner doing what he does best. According to head coach Eric Stuessel, the biggest takeaway was everyone's health.

"The girls brought home the third-place plaque which is a very good way to start the season," he said. "It was a good first experience for the many first-time high school cross country runners that we have and everyone came out of the meet healthy."

The female competition featured 86 individual runners and nine teams and the Kneip sisters picked right back up from where they left off last year and were two of the top Cougarette finishers.

Maddie Kneip crossed the finish line in 17th overall with Allie Gonzalez right behind in 19th. Makinzy Kneip registered 23rd while the Garcia twins finished consecutively (Rubi in 30th and Esmeralda in 31st) in front of Gracie Arteaga in 33rd. Melissa Gonzalez came in 69th to round the Brazos total to 71 points, just 36 points shy of the winning Pasadena Memorial Mavericks.

In the junior varsity race on the girls' side, the Cougarettes had two top-30 finishers in Valentina Ibarra (22) and Ashley Perez (27) on top of Lizbet Roque's 42nd place finish.

For Stuessel on the boys' side of things, Zachary Cortez is a state-qualifying returner and started out his season on being the first Brazos finisher where he registered 40th overall out of 123 runners and 14 teams.

Alfredo Ochoa was the next Cougar over the line in 67th where Bryan Pedroza (73), Brayden Hanzelka (83), Kaden Kneip (87) and Anthony Gonzalez (88) all finished right around each other to move their total to 277 points, earning them 10th overall in the team race.

On the junior-varsity level, Brazos had three male runners competing, with Jacob Molina earning 50th, Joshua Martinez grabbing 52nd and Wesley Holub taking 94th to wrap things up for the first time on the season.

Their next opportunity to hit the course will come Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Yoakum Cross Country Invitational.

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