STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The Marble Falls High School boys cross country team finished 13th overall at the Class 5A state meet November 9 in Round Rock, while senior Ambrie Lizcano was 140th.
Junior Bailey Goggans didn’t complete the race because of injury.
The Mustangs were paced by senior Bryer Atkinson, who finished 45th overall in 15 minutes 54.27 seconds followed by juniors Austin Flores at 69th in 16:12.86 and Shea Johnson at 88th in 16:26.44. Sophomores Samuel Valdez was 114th in 16:57, and Jett Zurita was 132nd in 17:28.92.
Atkinson and Flores each set personal bests.
At last year’s state meet, Atkinson finished 85th in 16:45.
“Bryer has come a long way in a short time, and he is continuously improving,” head coach Chris Schrader said. “I cannot wait for the track season.”
Atkinson’s best time in the mile is 4:29; his best time in 2 miles is 10:08.
“With continued improvement, I can see him running under 9:40 (in 2 miles) and, possibly, under 4:20 (in the mile),” Schrader said.
Schrader is looking for better results in 2020, especially from Flores and Johnson. While not every runner set a personal best, they all ran faster than the times they posted at the district or regional meets.
The coach believes these runners, minus Atkinson, who will be running for Tarleton State University next year, will form the nucleus of the team. A talented group of rising sophomores and freshmen are expected to make the Mustangs even better, the coach said.
“The team will be strong next year, but all our runners need to understand that the rest of the state is also improving,” Schrader said. “We will need five boys under 16 minutes at state next year to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Lizcano, who has been battling a sinus infection for two weeks, completed the 3.2-mile race in 20:56.53.
“When you have an allergy issue and breathing through a straw, it’s difficult,” Schrader said.
He noted that Goggans, who was disappointed she didn’t finish, competed at 10-15 percent of her workload at the Class 5A Region III and state meets.
He told Lizcano and Goggans, who won state gold medals in the 400 and 800 meters in May, that this race is one of many they will run in the next several years.
Schrader also believes the results of this meet will empower both of them.
“It toughens you up,” he said. “You can run any time you set your mind. It’s not what you wanted.”
While Goggans and Lizcano were the only two Lady Mustangs to advance to the state meet, Schrader commended their teammates for finishing third at the District 17-5A meet to advance as a team to the Class 5A Region III competition.
What impressed Schrader even more about the district finish is that Goggans didn’t run in the meet because of an injury. That forced the others to step up in a big way.
The team included seniors Jaden Johnson and Nataly Mata, junior Jennifer Arreguin, sophomore Sayra Salazar, and freshman Alexandra Ellis.
Not only did Goggans run in the regional meet, she won the race in 18:57.50.
“We started the year with a team that nobody put any stock in with us going to this level,” the coach said. “I think they achieved a lot because they stuck with it.”
MARBLE FALLS STATE MEET RESULTS
Boys – 45, Bryer Atkinson, 15:54.27 26; 69, Austin Flores, 16:12.89; 88, Shea Johnson, 16:26.44; 114, Samuel Valdez, 16:57.00; 132, Jett Zurita, 17:17.28; 147, Eric Nickowski, 18:10.47; 149, Dominik Flores, 18:31.41
Girls – 140, Ambrie Lizcano, 20:56.53