At the final event preceding District 8-5A competition, which opens Wednesday, Harker Heights again brought its A-game to the 5,000-meter race.
The pack has won four of six attended meets this year.
After winning the Midlothian Invitational, Temple Invitational and McNeil Invitational, Heights notched another win at Saturday’s Georgetown River Run at Georgetown High School.
“Our boys have confidence in their ability, and they’re very, very fit,” said Heights boys cross country coach Julian Acuña. “If we don’t come out with any injuries, we can come away with a victory in district, and that’s been our goal all season.”
Heights’ top three runners — Darin Garrett, Scott McEwan and Nicholas Jacobsen — posted a combined score of 22 and placed in the top 10 of a 168-runner field.
The Knights posted a top-five time of 1 hour, 23 minutes and 58 seconds, and a total score of 78 points, 19 fewer than runner-up Round Rock.
“The boys just keep getting faster every week,” Acuña said. “We want to peak at the end of the season. ... The boys are doing exactly what we want them to do.”
Belton girls fifth in Georgetown River Run
At the Georgetown River Run on Saturday, the Lady Tigers finished in 1:40:33 with 143 points, 5 behind fourth place Leander and 35 ahead of sixth place Marble Falls in the girls’ 4A-5A 5,000-meter race.
With times of 19:14 and 19:20, respectively, freshmen Brooke Gilmore and Olivia Houlden finished sixth and ninth in a field of 197 runners.
Lady Tem-Cats place 10th in Georgetown
In the 5A girls 5,000-meter race in Georgetown, the Temple girls placed 10th, posting a time of 1:45:26 and 286 points, 9 behind Georgetown.
Temple’s No. 1 runner, senior Emma Maceachern, placed 15th overall in 19:46.
“Our whole focus and preparation is to peak at the right time,” said Temple girls cross country coach David Melvin. “We’ll be doing a lot of maintenance this week.”
Melvin highlighted Maceachern, who he said has recently stepped up her running.
“She’s just a workhorse in practice, never gets tired, always anxious to run,” he said.
Melvin said running large events like the recent McNeil and Cedar Park invitationals can boost teams’ running IQ and show them “how the big dogs eat.”
“There’s not a whole lot you can do at this time of the year,” he said. “You just got to hope your girls are mentally and physically prepared.”
Killeen’s Mitchell second in Georgetown
The two-year reigning girls’ 5A district champ senior Lady Roo Brittany Mitchell is again solidifying her role at the top.
At the Georgetown River Run, she ran at a pace of 6:03 per mile, and finished with a time of 18:54 to finish second.
“The team looks up to her performance, her academics,” said Killeen girls cross country coach Nubia Medina. “The team looks at her dedication. ... Ever since she has been a freshman, she has been involved in school. School is her No. 1 priority.”
With a top-five time of 1:48:04 and 333 points, the Lady Roos edged Harker Heights by 4 points to place 12th out of 20.
The Lady Roos ran almost 15 minutes faster than they did the previous week at the McNeil Invitational in Round Rock.
“I think McNeil, it’s a big meet,” Medina said. “It’s too many people, so I think the kids cannot be very relaxed running because it’s too much pressure....(In Georgetown), the course was fast also. “The weather was a little bit humid, but I think they felt so comfortable.”
Killeen ascended to 5A in 2012, and competes against more seasoned opposition than in years past.
“On this one, everyone was together,” Medina said. “And they helped together mentally. “Whatever they’re doing, I will be pleased with them....If they’re doing their best, that what counts for me.”
Belton boys place 13th at Georgetown
The Tigers posted 343 points and a time of 1:30:52, to beat Austin by 27 points and land the 13th spot in Georgetown on Saturday.
The defending District 8-5A champs will enter the district schedule Wednesday.
“With the district, I think we have a good opportunity to compete,” said Belton boys cross country coach Ben Bralley. “But I think it’s going to take a whole lot of will to get there.”
Bralley highlighted Heights as the team to beat this year, and will rely on top three runners John Jennings, Matt Perez and Ridge Hale to repeat as champions.
“Ridge and John are both seniors,” Bralley said. “Through our program, they’ve progressed every single year.”