There is one common denominator for the cross country girls of Lindsay, Era and Muenster.
They are all competing for a Class A State championship this week at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
After running in the Class A Region III Cross Country Championships last Saturday in Humble, the final results showed a sweep by the trio of Cooke County teams as Lindsay finished first, Era second and Muenster a close third.
“That’s awesome,” Lindsay cross country coach Robin Hess said. “That just shows how strong our district is. We have three really strong girls teams in our area. On any given day, anybody can beat anybody. Before we even got the final results, I told someone ‘Wouldn’t be awesome if all three of us out of Cooke County make it?’ We were fortunate to make it.”
The Muenster and Era coaches both echo that sentiment.
“I think that just goes to show the caliber of athletes that we have in the area,” Muenster coach Amy Binder said. “To sweep regionals was awesome. Last year we got close and this year we did it. We swept first, second and third by a long shot, almost 60 to 70 points between third and fourth place.”
“I think it’s pretty neat how all three schools from the same county are going to state,” Era coach Steven Campbell said. “It represents how tough our district really is. It just goes to show that just because you finish third doesn’t mean you can’t go to State.”
Leading the pack was Lindsay’s Kelsey Hermes who rebounded from a detrimental district meet a couple of weeks ago after struggling to finish the last leg of the race.
But to take first place overall with a time of 11:54 in the two-mile run in Humble was a confidence boost for Hess’ senior.
“After the race was over, I asked her and she said that it was the best race, that it was just perfect,” Hess said. “She felt good about how she ran and the way she ran it and everything. That monkey was let off her back.”
Placing second at regionals was Muenster’s Emily Hellman with a time of 12:16 and third was Lindsay’s Lauren Gibbs. Era’s top runner was Carlee Black, who finished sixth with a time of 12:27.
With all of his runners placing in the top 25 in Humble, including six in the top 20, Campbell said he likes his team’s chances this weekend.
“If we run like I know we can then I feel like we are a top-5 team,” he said. “The girls were there last year. I really like the course. It’s not really hilly and is pretty flat. Honestly, you should run your best time at State and hopefully we will.”
More than half of the top 30 runners at the Region III meet were from Cooke County as Muenster, Lindsay and Era combined for 15 of the top 26 spots.
“I’m really proud of our girls,” coach Binder said. “I think we peaked at the right time. We’ve gone through a lot of struggles. This year we have had a lot of injuries. The girls have been patient with their healing process so they were allowed to recover in time and not push themselves too early. They have come so far. It’s been an up and down season for us and I’m just very proud of them.”
Coach Hess likes her team’s chances to come home with a medal of some type after Saturday’s race.
“I think we have an outside chance to medal if not possibly win it,” Hess said. “It just depends on how everyone else runs.”
She also will be cheering on her boys team as they also qualified for State, finishing in third place at regionals.
“With the boys making it, I am still in shock, but knew they had an outside chance,” the Lindsay coach said. “After the boys ran the race, I thought it would be close. The boys ran really good times and they stayed close together which helped them a lot too.”
Also competing in Saturday’s race will be Gonzo Dominguez of Valley View. He qualified for the State meet with a sixth-place finish at regionals with a time of 17:43 in the three-mile run.
Saint Jo’s Claire Weger also qualified for State individually after placing seventh overall in the Region II Cross Country Championships, also held last Saturday
Weger finished with a time of 12:40 in the two-mile run.