By Nick Talbot
Harker Heights Herald
ROUND ROCK - Harker Heights ran with a pack mentality.
And it paid off.
Mike Odeh placed third, Kyle Thompson fifth and Tyler Moffett sixth as the Knights won their first District 12-5A cross country title Wednesday at Old Setters Park in Round Rock.
A&M Consolidated, who won last year's title, placed second with 50 team points. Heights had 41. Rounding out the scoring for the Knights were Robert Cavin, who placed 12th and Alex Rediske, who was 13th.
"A&M has won it every year since we've been coming here and to take it away from them is really cool," Thompson said.
"We finally got them," Odeh added.
What won it for Heights was pushing each other.
"I tried to get (Thompson) to stay up with me and try to motivate each other," Odeh said.
Thompson added, "It definitely helped me. I would have dropped back sooner if he hadn't ... (At the end of the race) I heard everyone cheering for Tyler and I told myself 'I got to go now.'"
All three, though, were far behind the leaders.
Copperas Cove senior Derwin Graham held off Ellison's Silvester Harrison to win the boys individual title.
Belton girls make regionals
Behind five finishers in the top-18, the Belton girls cross country team placed third and advanced to the Region II-5A meet in Arlington.
Katelin Huckabee led the Lady Tigers charge, placing third with a time of 12:07.9.
"I think I started out too fast, but it happens," said the junior.
It did not hurt that she, much like the Heights boys, had a teammate on her heels the entire race. Alejandra Marquez was only seven-tenths of a second behind Huckabee.
"She is normally right up there," Marquez said. "I was surprised for her to be so close. I almost passed her, but I didn't." Huckabee interjected, "I just, thought 'Oh, please don't pass me.'"
Jordan Mitchell was 12th for Belton with a time of 12:45.3.
The only individual qualifier for a KISD school was Harker Heights junior Kassandra Booker. Booker finished in sixth place (12:12.6).
"I just wanted to get out and try to get my spot and just pace myself," Booker said. "(Being in a pack with other girls) made me kind of nervous ... But it kind of helped me because I knew if I stayed with them I was going to place."
Salado boys, Lampasas girls 2nd at 25-3A meet
LLANO - With four runners placing in the top 10, the Salado boys cross country team took second at the District 25-3A meet, while three top-10 finishers was enough for the Lampasas girls to do the same.
Both, though, finished behind district champion Liberty Hill, whose girls led with 38 points thanks to a run-away first-place individual finish by Susan Kemper (11:33).
Salado's boys, which finished 10 points behind the Panthers (36 pts), were led individually by fourth- and fifth-place finishers Patrick Murray (17:07) and Alex Cooke (17:18), followed by Robert Pereira (8th, 17:42.48) and Jada Kornegay (9th, 17:44). The Badgers only had one finisher in the top-25 in Joseph O'Rourke (22nd, 18:47).
The Lampasas girls were a different story, though, as Michaela Ellison finished third (12:34.90), Hailey Morrison (12:46) took seventh and Danesha Toro (13:00) rounded out the top 10. The Lady Eagles were led with a seventh-place finish from Ashley Adams (12:45), followed by Danielle Howe (13:01) in 11th and Mildred Tonchez (13:12) in 15th.
Alex Byington contributed to this report.