ROUND ROCK — Hunter Haas will not compete again at state, but he is confident Salado will.
The Eagles senior capped off his high school career racing along the 5,000-meter course meandering through Old Settlers Park on Saturday with 151 of the sport’s elite.
When the race was over, Haas emerged 32nd overall in the University Interscholastic League Cross Country State Championships’ Class 4A division with a time of 16 minutes, 41.75 seconds.
While Haas will not have another opportunity to improve on his debut showing, after immersing himself within the Eagles’ program for the past three years, he sees nothing but success in Salado’s future.
“This is going to be an amazing program in the next few years,” Haas said. “There are a lot of eighth-graders coming up, and I’m the only senior, so we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores.
“By the time their junior and senior years roll around, I think the whole team will come back here and win state.”
Part of the reason for Haas’ confidence stems from teammate Logan Rickey, who was also making his first appearance at state.
The sophomore crossed the finish line less than 20 seconds behind Haas, placing 47th with a time of 17:00.47.
“I expected to do better,” Rickey said. “I got out a little too slow, and I was fighting from the back of the pack.
“So, hopefully, if I get this far next year, I can get out a little faster.”
With two more opportunities to qualify for state, Rickey is not dwelling on any disappointment.
“This gives me something to look forward to and work toward,” he said.
Melissa sophomore Judson Greer won the individual championship with a time of 15:02.90, and Decatur earned the team title with 90 points to edge out second-place Andrews (92).
As a team, Salado’s season ended at the Region IV-4A meet, where the Eagles placed seventh despite a pair of top-10 showings from Haas and Rickey.
While Haas wished he shared the experience with his entire team, he is grateful Rickey was by his side.
“It was amazing to do this together,” Haas said. “He’s just a sophomore, and he has the whole world in front of him if he just works hard and has a good mindset about what he wants to accomplish.”
And Rickey already has one goal in mind.
“I just want to help motivate my teammates,” he said, “the way Hunter helped motivate me.”