In the Tigers’ last meet before the District 24-4A championship, both Sealy cross country teams finished second in the team competition at the Brazos Invitational in Wallis last Saturday morning.
The boys’ team finished tied for first but lost the tiebreaker while only state-ranked East Bernard finished ahead of the Lady Tigers.
With the district meet set for next Wednesday, Oct. 28, in Brookshire, Sealy head cross country coach Anthony Branch was looking for better habits than faster finishes in the final regular-season race.
“This past week in practice, we focused more on our form and focused on the thought process as you go on and talked about staying positive in the race,” Branch said. “If there’s any negative thoughts in your head, come up with three positives as you’re racing. Also, every so often, make sure that they take a deep breath, control the breathing and focus on one thing; don’t focus on time, don’t focus on results.”
This week of practice leading up to the first of the win-or-go-home races, Branch said the focus remained the same.
“Now this week is a tune-up week, we’re just trying to keep their legs fresh more than anything,” Branch said. “Getting quality reps and get in, get out, get our work in and focus on the next day and just ignore all the rest.”
Both teams got in quality work in Wallis and ran competitively against solid programs and individual runners.
“The girls were tied after our first four runners and their first four runners with East Bernard, who’s state ranked and is probably the favorite to win the region in 3A,” Branch said. “I think all of them ran good and it’s a tough course because it’s always slow there at that course, the grass is a little bit higher and it was also a little bit wet so it did slow us down a bit but it slowed everyone else down too.”
Freshman Allyson Guerrero battled through the conditions and nearly came away with the top spot had it not been for Boling’s top runner, Kenna Gibson.
“She went out and ran really well,” Branch said of Guerrero. “She was right behind the kid from Boling who’s probably going to get to the state meet on her own, so to be right there in that situation I thought was good for her.”
Branch said that experience will hopefully help when the Lady Tigers try to reach the regional championship as a team for the first time in his Sealy tenure.
“It’s really exciting for the seniors, Coral Becerra and Maddie Manak,” the coach said. “Madison’s only been to regionals once, Coral’s never been so she wants this opportunity and those two kids have been the backbone of our program. Tremendous character and hard workers, they don’t make excuses for anything they just come in, get their stuff done and they lead by example.”
On the boys’ side, the top few runners are set and have been consistently producing and Branch looks forward to a solid race from them as well but understands that a championship isn’t the only thing the teams are looking to accomplish next week.
“We know on the boys’ side, there’s some competition. There’s Bellville and it’s gonna be a great race with them and all those guys,” Branch said. “They have a great opportunity to do what we want to do to get back to winning a district championship, but like I told them, ‘If all we focus on is that we’re not successful if we don’t win, no, that’s not success.’ Success is going to be more focused on did you give your best effort today? Did you do all the things you needed to? If you do those things, we’re gonna be fine.”