With the district meet less than a month away, the Sealy Tigers’ cross country team is entering the middle of its season with one thing in mind: improvement.
Head coach Anthony Branch said that was one of the main things he was looking for heading into the team’s third meet of the season at Schulenburg.
“They’re getting better, especially in practice,” Branch said. “Now I feel like we’ve got them where they can consistently run a seven-minute mile and that’s pretty good.”
The practice has paid off for sophomore James Gassiott who placed sixth overall in the meet with a three-mile time of 17:45. Gassiott was the highest finisher for Sealy on the boys’ side while Celeste Garcia was the top finisher for the girls who ran a 14:24 two-mile time for 26th overall.
Coral Becerra finished shortly behind Garcia with a time of 14:48. Branch said the girls’ team has shown a lot of promise in the past few weeks and it showed it in the meet.
“We’re getting real close, I’d say we’re probably a week away of getting everybody where they need to be,” Branch said. “[I’m] really pleased with how the girls ran.”
One of the runners on the boys’ team Branch said he was particularly impressed with was freshman Vladimir Hernandez who has dropped nearly a minute off his mile time.
As for what the team needs to improve, Branch said it’s something that sounds counterintuitive but has strategical value: not running so fast.
While it may seem obvious that the whole purpose to a running sport is to do it fast, Branch said the key is endurance, not speed.
“If you run your first mile fast and hard, that’s great but what about the next two miles,” Branch said. “A lot of time the kids think they’re running too slow but I tell them to think about the end because it’s not about where you start but where you finish.”
Branch said as the team continues to show improvement, the future of the program is looking bright for the young squad. The team only has two seniors so with many returning runners for the next few years guaranteed, experience now is a key piece to improving.
The team’s next meet is Thursday, Sept. 21 at Rice High School in Altair. The meet will begin at 5 p.m. and is Sealy’s second-to-last meet before the district meet.