JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School cross-country team hosted its Marble Falls Invitational on Sept. 6.
But this event is about speed, so instead of running 3.2 miles, head coach Anthony Torns created a two-mile race.
He had several reasons for conducting a this type of a meet. One was to help athletes speed train so several 800-meter track runners really enjoyed the course.
“The big thing is it’s early,” he said. “A lot of times, some teams haven’t gotten much training. It’s a preparation. Part of the training process is to get better.”
The varsity girls race was won by Faith Academy of Marble Falls sophomore Sophie McCannon, who clocked 11 minutes and 35 seconds, a new meet record.
McCannon said she got tired at one point during the race but realized she was competing for God. That gave her the energy to finish, she said.
She also credited her father, Faith head coach Steve McCannon, for her preparation. The two had been training since July 1.
They had a strategy they tossed right before the race began. Her coach told her simply to run well enough to win gold.
So she shortened the course even more by studying where she could run faster in specific areas.
“You take a shorter path,” she said. “On the corners, you take sharper turns. If I had someone right next to me, I probably would have given more, but I always feel that way.”
Steve McCannon said his daughter hit the time he wanted on the first mile.
“The older she gets, the more strides she runs,” he said.
Overall, Steve McCannon felt very good about the way his runners competed, noting they all hit their marks for the first mile. Now he knows they must work on endurance and speed for the second mile. McCannon said the Flames are working toward the Class 3A state meet of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, which is Oct. 25.
“It’s about guts,” he said. “We’re going to hitch our wagons to our seniors and Sophie.”
The Lady Mustangs were fifth in the varsity division, while the junior varsity finished second.
Senior Tess Johnson was the team’s highest finisher at 12 minutes 6 seconds.
“That’s a huge personal record for her,” Torns said. “That’s one of the top six times in school history. She outpaced (former teammate) Sarah Stripling.”
Johnson missed much of the cross-country season and all of the track season last year because of an injury. She has been mixing in biking, swimming and running for endurance to stay healthy enough to race. The runner said biking and swimming has helped her become physically and mentally tough.
“I felt good,” she said. “It was a really tough course. It felt good to race again. I felt confident going into this race.”
Torns said he was pleased with the effort by the rest of the Lady Mustangs and noted there’s still work to do. He said he was very happy with the progress of the junior varsity squads, noting that Tiffany Dunavant dropped a minute off her time from a week earlier.
With three runners, the Marble Falls boys did not earn a team score in the varsity division. So Torns said he is looking for runners. The junior varsity Mustangs, however, finished third out of six teams.
The coach said the easy solution would be to promote the top junior varsity runners to the varsity level. But he was hesitant to do it.
“They love running,” he said. “It’s why I’m not bumping them up to varsity, so they can have success on the junior varsity to improve.”
Senior Chris Gregg was 12th in division in his first meet ever.
RESULTS: Varsity boys (42 runners) — 12, James Ramos (Marble Falls), 10:31; 25, Christian Marroquin (Marble Falls), 11:06; 26, Ishmael Montoya (Marble Falls), 11:07. Junior varsity boys (77 runners) — 7, Jose Jimeniz (Marble Falls), 11:31; 8, Chrisitan Ramirez (Marble Falls), 11:33; 12, Chris Gregg (Marble Falls), 11:52; 22, Andre Hooper (Marble Falls), 12:28; 29, Daniel Mata (Marble Falls), 13:01; 44, Tait Johnson (Marble Falls), 14:18. Varsity girls (44 runners) — 1, Sophie McCannon (Faith), 11:35; 5, Tess Johnson (Marble Falls), 12:06; 20, Tincia Ware (Marble Falls), 13:07; 22, Brittney Deering (Marble Falls), 13:17; 23, Sydney Gibson (Marble Falls), 13:18; Sierra Brinkley (Faith), 13:50; 30, Emma Sharpe (Marble Falls), 13:56; Kristina Lane (Faith), 14:50; Danyelle Morris (Faith), 16:25. Junior varsity girls (102 runners)— 4, Tiffany Dunavant (Marble Falls), 14:09; 5, Elizabeth Lane (Marble Falls), 14:11; 10, Arianna Sanchez (Marble Falls), 14:15; 13, Rosa Benitez (Marble Falls), 14:36; 17, Allie Steward (Marble Falls), 14:48
RECORDS: Sophie McCannon set a new record for the Marble Falls Invitational, while Tess Johnson’s time was the sixth fastest for a Lady Mustang running a two-mile course.
UP NEXT: Marble Falls at Cedar Park Invitational at Cedar Park High School, 2150 Cypress Creek Road in Cedar Park; varsity girls at 8:30 a.m. followed by varsity boys, junior varsity girls and junior varsity boys.