The Sealy Tigers cross country team competed in the District 25-4A meet in Brookshire on Oct. 10. All of the boy runners advanced to the regional meet but only one girl, junior Celeste Garcia, qualified for regionals.
The boys team finished third in the meet with a score of 64 while the girls missed out on advancing as a team placing fourth with 96 finishing just behind Stafford who had 95 points. Head coach Anthony Branch said they should still be proud of their effort as it was their career-best in the meet.
“I was so proud of them and I told them that we had a real shot at getting that third spot so they have nothing to hang their heads about,” Branch said. “We got them in the 14-minute range and you know, we just came up a bit short but their commitment from this year will carry over into next.”
Behind Garcia, Trinity Hall finished the two-mile run at 16th with a time of 14:08 while Coral Becerra and Madison Manak also finished in the 14-minute mark with times of 14:21 and 14:34 respectively. Branch said the fact the girls all ran so well made the loss that much harder for the team.
“Mentally, they prepared great and the hardest thing was afterwards when I had to tell the girls that we lost by one was probably one of the toughest things I had to do as a coach,” Branch said. “It’s like running into a brick wall because you think it’s going well and then all of a sudden it’s over.”
Garcia, even though she advanced, was also emotional with her teammates after the meet, Branch said. She is going to advance to the regional meet based off her individual finish in which she ran a time of 13:27 which placed her ninth. The time was a career best for the junior runner.
As for where the girls team goes from here now that their season is done, Branch said the heartbreak has to be used to fuel their motivation heading into their new season next fall.
“The hurt, the crying and the tears hurts so bad because of how committed you are and how prepared you are,” Branch said. “I told them that they have to keep preparing on their own [in the offseason] and you need to remember do you want to have this feeling again because I can guarantee you that this is still very heavily on their minds.”
As for the boys who will be competing in the regional meet, Branch said their performance was exactly what he knew they were capable of after seeing their body of work throughout the season.
“I think what went right for them was we ended up taking care of some of the Stafford runners because we knew Royal and Needville would be really good,” Branch said. “Our top three runners ran well and got us points early on so that was important.”
Those runners were James Gassiott, Jesus Barroso and Nahhol Ahmed. Gassiott and Barroso finished the three-mile run in just under 19 minutes and Ahmed finished with a time of 19:23.
Branch also pointed to Coby Kendricks and Vladimir Hernandez as runners who have shown the most improvement as they both finished close to 20 minutes.
“I think they just passed the people up when they needed to at key points in the race so I think that was key to getting that third spot,” Branch said.
Looking ahead to the regional meet, Branch said he will prepare the team in a similar fashion he did for the district meet which focused on one thing: rest. Branch said the team told him the few days’ rest helped them keep their legs fresh.
Branch also said that despite a good portion of the team being done for the season, the fact that there is only two seniors on the team makes for a promising future for the team. He said the team has to keep the mindset of being all in that they have had from this season on especially after experiencing the hurt of the end of the season.
“Being all-in is going to hurt because you will have disappointment and it will hurt but when it does, they will be able to regroup and better themselves to go after it,” Branch said.
The boys team and Garcia will compete in the regional meet on Oct. 23 in Corpus Christi.