ROUND ROCK — Alex Cooke was in contention to be a champion.
With about a half-mile to go, he was in a pack of six runners, one second away from the lead.
In the home stretch, however, he didn’t have the finishing kick of his opponents.
But he was happy anyway.
Behind Cooke, the Salado boys placed second in the 2A state cross country meet at Old Settlers Park on Saturday. It’s the best team finish by a Salado squad in Cindy Mewhinney’s 15 years as coach.
She has led 12 teams (three boys, nine girls) to the state meet, including this year’s Lady Eagles, who placed eighth overall.
Salado’s boys finished with 69 points, while champion Luling had 47. Cooke was Salado’s top individual, coming in fourth place with a time of 16 minutes, 16.61 seconds in the five-kilometer race.
The Eagles had four runners place in the top 20 of the 104-runner field, including Eric McGregor (17th, 17:04.64), Robert Pereira (19th, 17:08.75) and Patrick Murray (20th, 17:15.31). Also competing for Salado were John Franz (52nd, 18:18.88), Nick Cooke (53rd, 18:19.00) and Daniel Thoreson (66th, 18:46.43).
“Eric and Patrick really stepped it up,” Cooke said. “We accomplished a lot. We gave everything we had today.”
Quintin McGregor of Amarillo Highland Park won the 2A race in 16:04.42, followed by San Antonio Cole’s Stefan Arnold (16:09.40) and Eustace’s Evan Arambula (16:13.82).
“I was just trying to keep up with them. I think I went out too fast in the first 2 miles,” Cooke said. “I’m surprised with finishing fourth. I was just trying to finish in the top 10.”
The Salado girls had 183 points, led by Ashley Adams and China Saxton. Adams was 23rd with a two-mile time of 12:54.72 and was immediately followed by Saxton (12:55.65). Also competing for Salado were Arianna Rangel (75th, 13:52.80), Katie Ewton (77th, 13:57.93), Lizzy Cooke (88th, 14:16.67) and Brittany Sodic (103rd, 15:13.73).
“Our region (III) is the weakest. With our times, I was hoping the girls team would place 10th,” Mewhinney said. “I’m not disappointed in the girls team at all.”