WACO — Scott McEwan held nothing back.

One year after finishing third overall at the district championship, Harker Heights’ No. 1 senior runner blasted his way to a time of 15 minutes, 38 seconds, landing himself atop the District 8-5A Championship leader board Wednesday at the HOT Complex.

“This race, I had a different mentality,” McEwan said. “I was over-confident last year, and this year, I came in more humble and focused. Definitely, we were all more focused this year instead of fooling around.”

All five Knight scorers placed in the top 10 of the 54-runner field. Sophomore Nicholas Jacobsen and senior Darin Garrett crossed seconds after McEwan, and notched times of 15:46 and 15:48 to finish second and third overall. Sophomore Joseph Galvan and senior Giovanni Vega-Torres finished ninth and 10th, with respective times of 16:24 and 16:26.

Completing the course 2:15 ahead of Waco Midway and 3:23 in front of Belton — which also qualified for a Nov. 2 trip to the regional meets in Lubbock — Heights dashed to a total time of 1:20:04.

The Knights scored 25 points, trimming 32 off Midway’s score. Heights averaged 16 minutes per runner.

“This is the goal they had all season,” said Heights boys cross country coach Julian Acuña. “For them, it just says they have a lot of character. They’ve been working out since June, July. ... They’ve got good work ethic, and they’re very fierce competitors.”

Belton finished comfortably in third with 73 points, well ahead of fourth-place Ellison.

Senior John Jennings led the Tigers with a time of 15:59 and placed sixth overall, while seventh-place junior teammate Matthew Perez followed closely with a time of 16:12.

“I warmed up for quite a bit longer on this one, so I felt a lot better during the race,” Jennings said. “I really like this course.”

Tiger senior Braden Hammond, senior Ridge Hale and sophomore Logan Zwerneman placed 15th, 16th and 29th overall, with corresponding times of 16:44, 16:49 and 17:41. Belton runners averaged 16:41.

“I was really impressed with the way Braden Hammond ran today, and Matt Perez,” said Belton boys cross country coach Ben Bralley. “In our district, every year is up and down. ... Our guys are disappointed we didn’t win, and that’s evident — especially talking to John there. He really wanted to win today. I love to have that mentality for our guys. Now, we expect to win. It’s not like we’re worried about getting out.”

Ellison placed fourth with a total time of 1:26:03; Copperas Cove finished sixth with a time of 1:27:55; Killeen was seventh with a time of 1:29:35 and Shoemaker was eighth with a time of 1:32:18.

Contact Brian Bradley at bbradley@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567

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